It has been another busy year for Inverness as the Highland capital finds its feet in a turbulent post-pandemic world.
The last few years have seen unprecedented challenges for many of the city’s best loved businesses.
Those challenges have caused a huge amount of upheaval and left a lasting impact on Inverness.
But there is still a lot in the pipeline.
In December 2022, the Press and Journal picked six developments to keep an eye on in 2023.
12 months on, let’s take a look at how those developments have progressed since then.
The national treatment centre
Last year, we reported that the £42m treatment centre at Inverness Campus was due to open in April and that’s what happened.
It had originally been scheduled to open in 2021 but was hit by delays.
The centre quickly proved how needed it was by enduring a very busy opening six weeks.
It offers procedures for joints, hips, and knees as well as orthopaedic and ophthalmology and aims to cut waiting times at Raigmore Hospital.
There are five operating theatres, 24 beds, 13 consultation rooms and an outpatient department.
Inverness’s main thoroughfare was thrust into the spotlight in late 2022 when a proposal to greatly reduce the amount of traffic on it emerged.
The City of Inverness area committee voted narrowly by a 12-10 margin to press forward with the plans last November and a year on, things seem as divided as ever.
More details about the plans trickled out as the months passed and Highland Council held a series of public consultations to gather more intel from the public.
During those, the local authority was keen to clarify that this was not a blanket ban on cars.
As predicted, we did hear a lot more about Academy Street in 2023.
It was discussed at another city committee in September and councillors agreed – by the same 12-10 margin – to progress to the design stage.
A legal challenge from businesses concerned the plans will have a catastrophic effect on city centre trade has also been launched.
That will need to be settled before we can say with any certainty what will happen next.
The consultation website for the Academy Street plans lists summer 2024 as the start date for construction of the scheme.
Eastgate food court
The Eastgate finally got the upgrade it had been crying out for when Loch and Larder opened on February 13.
The food court area of the popular shopping centre had been left bare for sometime, a shadow of how it used to look just a few years ago.
But a £2m investment focused on quality, local produce injected a bit of life back into the area and gave city centre customers a few more culinary options.
A traditional Scottish restaurant from former MasterChef: The Professionals champion Gary Maclean leads five new food venues in the newly-refurbished food court.
Maclean’s Scottish Kitchen joins pizza restaurant Inver Mercato, Indian restaurant Ness n Korma, chicken outlet Cluck and dessert place Sweet Ness.
The Haven Centre
The £4m project for the Elsie Normington Foundation’s Haven Centre has been many years in the making.
Thankfully, the multi-purpose facility for disabled children and young people opened its doors as planned on August 25.
It is based at the former location of the Culloden Court Care Home in Smithton.
That building was destroyed by fire in 2010 and had been derelict ever since.
The newly-built centre contains a community cafe, soft play area, play park and three separate respite apartments for short stays.
Its aim is to help alleviate some of the burden on struggling families by giving them a short break from their daily responsibilities.
It’s all gone a bit quiet at the Ironworks.
Bricks Capital secured planning permission for a new Courtyard by Marriott hotel back in August 2022.
That decision signalled the end of the popular music venue and it held its final gig on February 4.
The process to turn the building at 122B Academy Street into a 155-bed hotel was expected to begin after that.
But so far, not a whole lot has happened.
Bricks Capital has not responded to requests for comment about its plans.
That has left a slight question mark about whether it will proceed as planned.
The firm still has more than 18 months before its planning permission lapses.
But given the difficult economic climate created by rising inflation, ballooning constructions costs and the cost of living crisis, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a rethink might end up on the cards.
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