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£1.3 million all-weather pitch plan for east of Inverness paused by Highland Council amid escalating costs

By Alasdair Fraser

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An aerial visual of the proposed sports pitch.
An aerial visual of the proposed sports pitch.

A £1.3 million all-weather sports pitch project in Inverness has been put on hold amid spiralling costs.

Moves to create the much-needed facility for the east side of the city took a step forward last May when the blueprint was approved by Highland Council’s own planners.

But it has now been confirmed that the proposal for Inverness Campus has been paused by the local authority with building work set to cost significantly more than previously thought.

According to the council, offers received from contractors to progress the project are “significantly above the available budget”, but the authority has declined to quantify the change in projected costs because of commercial confidentiality.

The admission has cast doubt on whether the project will now happen, with a Highland Council spokesman saying: “Unfortunately the project is currently paused as the tender prices received were significantly above the available budget.

“Work is underway to review the scope of the project and to determine next steps, which will be announced when available.”

UHI Inverness announced in 2021 that it had been awarded a £300,000 grant towards the new pitch from Sportscotland.

Other cash was secured from the council’s developer contributions funding pot and the Town Centre Regeneration Fund.

If work on the project does not begin by May 2025, a fresh planning application will have to be lodged for approval.

The UHI Inverness campus.
The UHI Inverness campus.

It is understood increased labour costs and the price of building materials are behind the delay.

Inverness councillor Ken Gowans, chairman of the economy committee, has long championed the need for better sports facilities on the east side of the city.

He is still hopeful that an agreement can still be struck for the pitch to be built, but said: “It’s still a live project, but the tender prices have come back far higher than we were expecting.

Councillor Ken Gowans.
Councillor Ken Gowans.

“That seems to be typical of projects at the moment. Prices are very volatile and unpredictable.

“What we’re doing now is continuing to seek funding sources for it. It’s still something we want to do.”

Highland Council is facing an estimated budget gap of around £60 million in 2024-25 and, on current spending, is expected to need more than £113m over the next three years to balance the books.

A spokeswoman for Sportscotland confirmed Highland Council had withdrawn its application for funding.

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