Projects worth half a billion pounds are planned for Inverness as part of an ambitious vision for the city by 2035.
The investment in developments under way or in the pipeline will build on £70m already spent since 2018 to transform the Highland capital.
A “pivotal” meeting in the future of the building programme brought together partners to discuss the way forward with Tom Arthur, Scottish minister for public finance, planning and community wealth.
What is the plan?
Last month Highland councillors approved an ambitious strategy for future development and investment across the city.
It merges the Inverness Futures Group’s ‘Inverness One City, One Vision’ 2035, led by MP Drew Hendry, and the council’s masterplan for Inverness.
The meeting with Mr Arthur focused on discussions about the benefits of partnership working involving the public and private sectors, businesses, residents and politicians.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise, High Life Highland, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Inverness Chamber of Commerce and Inverness Bid, along with business leaders and community groups, have signed up to the Inverness 2035 prospectus.
It aims to develop Inverness as a welcoming, successful, green, sustainable city.
Malcolm Macleod, the council’s executive chief officer infrastructure, environment and economy, said: “When we put together all the commitments that are made on projects that are under way or have been committed to, the figure we reached was half a billion pounds.
“That’s fantastic for the city. But the key thing now is to make sure that amount of money is used to lever in as much extra as we can and the spend is as integrated as possible.”
What future projects are planned?
The figure includes £135m committed through Transport Scotland elements of the City Region deal, including the East Link A9/A96 Inshes to Smithton road scheme.
Another £20 million is earmarked from the UK Government’s Levelling Up funds for an energy centre in Castle Street and upgrades to the Bught Stadium and Northern Meeting Park.
Other projects include Raigmore interchange improvements, Academy Street transformation, a shops and housing development in the former Arnotts building, a national treatment centre, an Inverness Airport rail station and active travel routes.
In addition, there are proposals for Inverness rail station, A9 and A96 upgrades, upgrades to Inshes and Longman junctions and the redevelopment of Port of Inverness.
A new hotel, as well as 50 residential units and new commercial properties have also been built in the centre.
Mr Macleod added: “It’s about the city as a whole. The East Link is absolutely critical to the future growth of Inverness. It opens up development opportunities, not just for houses, but green open space, sports facilities etc.”
Inverness vision can inspire other cities
Mr Arthur said the Inverness collaboration could inspire other cities in Scotland.
“What’s impressed me is the way it’s brought together so many people together.
“That’s so important as it’s one thing to have a vision, but you need that collective buy in to see it through to delivery.
“It’s an example of what can happen when communities work together, build a shared vision and then begin the often more challenging step of taking that vision and transforming it into reality.
“At the heart of it is that regeneration can’t be about doing things to communities, it has to be doing things with communities.
Mr Hendry, who chaired the meeting, said it was a major step forward for the vision.
Living up to being a city
“I believe this is a pivotal moment because now we’re into the matter of discussing some of the actual developments that will impact people.
“These are things that will make a real difference to the way our city will be developed into the future.
“It now gives us a sense of purpose, that we’ve not had since we became a city in 2000, to live up to the title of being a city.”
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