Moray Council has welcomed the “exciting milestone” of inviting tender bids for design work on two projects worth almost £40 million.
The developments are included in £100 million Moray Growth Deal which is being backed by the UK and Scottish Governments.
A design team is currently being sought for the improvements to Elgin Town Hall, which will be rebranded and extended as part of a £31m cultural quarter plan.
It is hoped that the planned £9m refurbishment will help transform the hall into a regional entertainment and creative industries centre.
Meanwhile, the refurbishment and extension of Grant Lodge to become a food and drink heritage centre will signpost to many of the tourist attractions in Moray and showcase improvements to Cooper Park.
Officials are also commissioning the design of the first phase of housing at Dallas Dhu, south of Forres.
This forms part of the £7.5m housing mix delivery project, which supports the creation of affordable housing throughout the region.
‘Exciting milestone’ for Moray Growth Deal
Tenders are to be submitted through Public Contracts Scotland by mid-March.
Moray Council leader Graham Leadbitter welcomed the news.
He said: “Going out to tender is an exciting milestone in getting these projects shovel-ready for works to start.
“The work being commissioned requires consultants to engage and consult widely with the community as the detailed designs evolve and it’s anticipated that detailed planning and listed building consents for Elgin Town Hall and Grant Lodge will be submitted before the end of 2021.
“We’re seeing real progress on the Cultural Quarter in particular, which will play a key role in the Masterplan for Elgin City Centre, to be published in March.
“This will invite discussion on a range of potential projects to drive investment in the City Centre, provide facilities and employment opportunities, and bring empty spaces and buildings back into use.”
Hopes full deal is signed this year
Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson hopes the full deal can be signed this year.
UK Government Minister Iain Stewart added: “It’s great to see good progress being made on these transformative projects.
“The UK Government has committed £32.5m to the Moray Growth Deal, including up to £3.5m for Grant Lodge.”