ONE of Inverness’s key paths is set to close for three months while it undergoes a much-needed transformation.
Raining’s Stairs, which links Crown with Castle Street, will close to the public from Monday while work on 16 neighbouring flats is completed and the steps, walls, railings and lighting are refurbished.
Construction of the flats, which include six affordable rental properties, is expected to be finished by late summer.
The development also includes a commercial unit which will be used as an office or retail space.
Willie Gray from developers Ark Estates and builders William Gray Construction said: "We apologise to anyone who will have to take a different route while the Stairs are closed but we are sure that the work will justify the temporary inconvenience and make a huge difference."
Central ward councillors Janet Campbell, Bet McAllister and Richard Laird said the new homes will help "breathe new life" into Inverness city centre, and provide "essential" affordable housing.
They said: "The City-Region Deal is providing much needed affordable housing and the small inconvenience of Raining’s Stairs being closed will soon pass as we see a vastly improved revamp to this vital thoroughfare completed."
David Traill from angling and shooting equipment shop, J Graham & Co on Castle Street, is please the development is helping to regenerate a previously notorious patch of derelict land, adding: "It’s great to see such huge improvements and new blood coming into the area."
And Café 1’s Norman MacDonald said: "It will make this entrance to Castle Street much more attractive and bring a freshness and vibrancy to this part of the city that is long overdue."
The Raining’s Stairs development is being built in partnership with the Highland Housing Alliance, Highland Council, Ark Estates and William Gray Construction.Funding has come from the Highland Housing Alliance, The Highland Council and Scottish gGovernment, including money secured as part of the £315 million City-Region Deal.