Published: 12/07/2017 19:00 - Updated: 13/07/2017 10:21

Plans to improve ugly Inverness Museum and Art Gallery site revealed

Written byGregor White

An artist's impression of the revamped look at night.
An artist's impression of the revamped look at night.

PLANNED improvements to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (Imag) have been greeted with scorn by the man who previously campaigned against covering the building with gold cladding.

City accountant Donald Mackenzie saw off proposals to decorate the museum building at Castle Wynd with gold coloured panels after he put together a 4000-signature petition.

Now he has dismissed Highland Council's plans for new signage at the gallery – along with LED lighting and the projection of images onto the side of the building – as "half-baked".

The designs, created by city firm Threesixty Architecture, acknowledges the museum's current "poor presence" and the fact the building "does not provide a positive setting" for A-listed neighbours Inverness Castle and the Town House.

Aiming to create "a vibrant place which draws positive pedestrian activity" there are plans for metal "fins" to incorporate new street lighting, which could be activated in response to people passing by.

Planners say these could also be programmed to change colour while projectors could beam images onto the museum walls that could be tailored towards particular events or times of the year.

Mr Mackenzie said the council needed to be much more ambitious in its proposals for the site.

"When the gold cladding was proposed most people objected to its being a waste of money and frankly this just looks like more of the same," he said.

"It would be much more sensible for them to do what many people have been calling for for a long time now and knock it down.

"Whatever lights you put up, whatever you do with the signage, it's still going to look ghastly and they'd be far better off just flattening the whole thing."

He added: "Some people talked about the previous plans being like putting make-up on a pig, where my idea was that it was like having a mouthful of bad teeth and getting yourself one gold one, as if that was going to detract from the awfulness of what was around it.

"This strikes me as exactly the same and I will certainly be opposing it."

Taxi drivers are also worried about the possible loss of their rank in Castle Wynd, which would be pedestrianised under the proposals.

Duncan Fraser of the Inverness Taxi Alliance said he thought the plans would be "disastrous" for customers.

"On a Friday and a Saturday night you can get hundreds of people heading out from pubs and clubs and on to the High Street looking to get home, and with the loss of that rank you're going to force almost all of them up towards the Eastgate and Academy Street," he said.

Not everyone is opposed to the plans however. City centre businessman Charlie Barbour, owner of The White House bar and bistro in Union Street said he was "broadly supportive" of the proposal, adding: "It's mostly streetscape work really, rather than anything being done to the fabric of the building itself.

"But on balance I think it's a positive step in the right direction."

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