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Exactly how big is the demand for sports facilities on the east side of Inverness? We’re about to find out

Ken Gowans was appointed the chairman of the working group.
Ken Gowans was appointed the chairman of the working group.

The creation of new sports facilities in the east of Inverness must be driven by local demand, the chairman of the working group has said.

Councillor Ken Gowans says a “proper consultation” will be undertaken to determine the scope of facilities.

He says this is required to “ensure we are meeting the needs and expectations of the local community first and foremost”.

Mr Gowans was appointed the chairman of the Inverness East Sports Facilities working group in December.

Specialist facilities ‘not a high priority’

Reports emerged recently that the new group could rejuvenate previous specialist sports offerings, such as a velodrome. However, although nothing has been ruled out, Mr Gowans said this is not a high priority.

He said: “We are at the early stages and we are very open.

“We will have to consider primary options such as a swimming pool which could in turn save on the cost of constructing such a facility if a new school is to be built on this side of town at any point in the future.

“Our plans need to fit in and align with our partners and stakeholders’ strategic imperatives.

“We need to have a shared vision in order to bring this project from concept to reality.

“This is a completely separate proposal to anything that has been proposed previously.

“We haven’t ruled anything in or out at the moment. But we need to deal with the fundamentals and the key priorities of providing a sports facility that serves the widest possible community.”

Plans to resurrect proposals for a velodrome are not likely to come to the fore.

New Inverness east sports facilities could serve the whole of Highland

Mr Gowans has said that the east provides the ideal location to attract others in from across the region.

He added: “I also see this as a sports centre that can serve the whole of Highland as well.

“It will be within close proximity in the east of the road network, the airport and the train station, and will take advantage of the new east link.

“We need to take our time to determine the right approach to ensure these facilities best serve the local and wider population, and benefit the Highlands and Inverness for generations to come.”

Swimming pool, indoor courts and cafes identified as essential

High Life Highland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), sportscotland and the University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) are also involved.

At their most recent meeting in January, the working group began identifying what facilities are sought after. Particular focus is now being placed on the needs of families, young children, those with a disability and the wider community.

Key facilities identified as being required include a swimming pool, indoor courts, a gym.

Multi-purpose rooms, eating areas such as cafes and restaurants and meeting rooms are also high on the agenda.

Swimming facilities are high on the agenda.

Nordic inspiration

Similar regional sports facilities in Aberdeen and Dundee were highlighted as potential blueprints for replication.

Mr Gowans added that inspiration is being sought from Nordic neighbours too.

Potential locations mooted include Inverness Campus, Milton of Leys, Inverness East Retail Park or Culloden Academy.

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