A new unified effort is being made to deliver on an ambitious vision for Inverness city centre.
A comprehensive strategy is being developed to improve the coordination, funding and delivery of existing and emerging projects for the Highlands capital.
As part of the move, it is proposed that the One City, One Vision report, published by the Inverness Futures Group last year, will be integrated into an overall Highland Council Inverness master plan.
What happens now?
The Futures Group, chaired by MP Drew Hendry, has presented a prospectus for Inverness as a “welcoming, prosperous, green and sustainable city” at the heart of a prosperous Highlands by 2035.
He has since gained support from several key organizations across the city.
As the project moves into the next phase, the council’s Inverness City Area Committee will discuss next week how public and private sector leaders will consult on how and when plans should progress.
A report to the September 14 committee meeting states: “The ambition of the board is that a much more concerted strategy, with clear results and an investment plan be developed, which clearly identifies when projects will be delivered and by who.
It is proposed to hold a series of in-person and online engagement events later this year.
Another report will then be presented to the committee, outlining a set of actions and recommendations.
Mr Hendry says opportunities have been missed, including by himself when he was council leader, to co-create a prospectus of the kind of city people want.
“With Inverness 2035 that is changing and the many discussions we have within the community are helping to shape the milestones over the next few years to 2035.
“Creating a great place to live, work and study is more important than any organization and I am delighted to be working with constituents and city leaders to develop this next chapter for Inverness.”
What has been done and what is planned?
The town’s master plan provided for housing, offices and leisure activities bringing new energy to the town centre.
It also offered more civic and green spaces, with more active travel than cars.
Already, according to the council, 50 residential units and new commercial units have been built in the centre, as well as a new hotel.
Another 60 residential units and seven new or renovated commercial units are under construction.
The Ness Hydro Project, Townhouse Upgrade and West Link Road Improvements have been completed since 2018.
Projects due for delivery by 2025 include a Green Freeport for Inverness and the Cromarty Firth, improvements to the Raigmore Interchange, transformation of Academy Street, upgrading of Victoria Market and redevelopment of the Castle of Inverness.
There are also plans for retail and housing development in the old Arnotts Building, a new National Processing Centre, the redevelopment of the Ironworks site, an Inverness Airport rail station and active travel routes.
Between 2025 and 2030 plans include a master plan for Inverness station, the A9 splitting and upgrades to the A96 including a Nairn bypass, upgrades to Inshes and Longman junctions and phase 2 of the redevelopment of the castle.
Plans for post 2030 include the redevelopment of the Port of Inverness and the Spectrum Centre.
Who supports the vision?
A number of bodies representing business, tourism, arts, leisure, IT and transport have supported the 2035 vision, including –
Stuart Black, Managing Director, Highlands and Islands Enterprise“A thriving region needs a thriving center and continued partnerships around a shared vision will be vital as Inverness and the Highlands grow in the years ahead to 2035, taking advantage of new opportunities such as the offshore wind, hydrogen and the space sector whilst remaining a key tourism driver for Scotland.
Steve Walsh, Managing Director, Highlife Highland“Inverness 2035 should be a place where everyone can reach their potential, whatever their circumstances, a place where opportunities in sport, culture, health and well-being are both plentiful and reflect the rich heritage of our history and our society.
MSP Fergus Ewing“A collective vision for our city that brings together political parties from all walks of life, investors, sectors and communities is essential for us to build on our successes and prepare for the future.”
Lorraine McBride, Inverness bid director“Working together means we have the opportunity to get it right for every citizen and also to leave a legacy for future generations who can build on our successes and ensure that Inverness and the rest of the Highlands achieve their full potential.”
Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive of the Inverness Chamber of Commerce“A collective vision for Inverness is vital as we move forward as a city and a region.”
Todd Walker, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, UHI: “Inverness 2035 represents a unique opportunity for a generation to define a collective vision for the city and the region.”
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[Leaders unite to develop Inverness city centre ambitions]