Native plants will be used as part of landscaping proposals for the Inverness Castle project which have been submitted in the latest step towards transforming the landmark into a major tourist attraction.
The proposals will remodel the castle esplanade and external courtyards. They include new hard and soft landscaping, seating areas, viewpoints and feature plantings that reflect the native species of the Highlands.
Designers say the proposals will integrate with the castle to allow the renovated interiors to connect with the new external areas.
Last month project architects submitted applications for listed building consent and building warrant approval in preparation for the main building works contract which will be subject to a tender process beginning in the spring.
Demolition work, asbestos surveys, timber preservation surveys and structural checks are already underway.
Earlier this month the original formal entrance of the castle was revealed for the first time in almost 50 years as the project gained momentum.
The former entrance lobby in the castle has also been reopened to the large ceremonial staircase behind, reinstating the dramatic original entrance that the building once enjoyed.
Until March 2020 the castle had been occupied by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.
The transformation of Inverness Castle is a Highland Council project, managed by High Life Highland. The Scottish Government, UK Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, VisitScotland, Scottish Development International, Historic Environment Scotland, and Nature Scot are among partners of the initiative.
A delivery group, chaired by the Provost of Inverness and the Scottish Government’s cabinet secretary for the rural economy and tourism, leads the project.
The vision includes a castle viewpoint, new galleries bringing national and international exhibitions to the Highlands, museum displays, shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and public spaces within the castle esplanade, as well as a potential new hotel.
It is planned that the project will be delivered in three phases.
The transformation is supported by £15 million from the Scottish Government and £3m UK Government investment through the Inverness and Highland City Region deal. It will create a gateway for Highland tourism which will help reinvigorate tourism across the area and help the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The city region deal is a joint initiative supported by up to £315m investment from the UK and Scottish governments, The Highland Council, HIE and University of the Highlands and Islands, aimed at stimulating sustainable regional economic growth.