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Inverness Castle transformation into tourist attraction enters next step after Highland Council buys South Tower following move of Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to new Inverness Justice Centre


By Philip Murray

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The Provost of Inverness, Helen Carmichael, receiving the ceremonial key to the Castle’s South Tower from Sheriff Principal Pyle, Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland and Islands, together with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Mr Fergus Ewing MSP, and Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of The Highland Council. Provost Carmichael and Mr Ewing jointly chair the Inverness Castle Delivery Group.
The Provost of Inverness, Helen Carmichael, receiving the ceremonial key to the Castle’s South Tower from Sheriff Principal Pyle, Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland and Islands, together with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, Mr Fergus Ewing MSP, and Cllr Margaret Davidson, Leader of The Highland Council. Provost Carmichael and Mr Ewing jointly chair the Inverness Castle Delivery Group.

INVERNESS Castle is now fully owned by Highland Council after the handover of the former court buildings was completed.

The council today announced the completion of the purchase of the South Tower, following the move by the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service to its new Inverness Justice Centre.

And, now that the entire castle is council-owned, the local authority is expected to proceed to the next stage of plans to turn it into a dedicated tourist attraction for the city.

The next significant step for the project will be the award of a tender for a contractor to carry out initial demolition work, asbestos surveys, timber preservation surveys and structural checks, called an ‘enabling works contract’ – with work beginning when lockdown guidelines allow.

In advance of the enabling works, today will also see the start of the installation of hoardings around the castle as it becomes a building site. The hoardings are expected to remain in place for the duration of the building period of up to four years.

The transformation of the Castle is supported by a £15 million Scottish Government investment through the city region deal.

The project, which forms part of the Inverness and Highland City Region deal, intends to create a gateway for Highland tourism, and is expected to provide much-needed investment for the industry as the region tries to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Provost of Inverness and Area, Cllr Helen Carmichael, said: “The Inverness Castle project is key for the regeneration of the tourism economy across the Highland region. I am delighted that the acquisition of the South Tower has now been completed, marking the next step in the transformation of this iconic building. With the impact of the pandemic being felt throughout our area, it is more important than ever that we create this ‘must-see’ attraction that will draw visitors to the Highlands in years to come.”

Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing, co-chair of the Inverness Castle Delivery Group, said: “The Scottish Government has been a long-time supporter of the development of Inverness Castle through the City Region Deal, engagement with key public bodies and through our direct involvement in the project. We know the castle has the potential to be one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions, benefitting the wider Highlands as well as Inverness itself, and I welcome that work has now reached another key stage on this major development.”

UK government minister for Scotland David Duguid added: “It’s fantastic that another milestone has been reached in the transformation of Inverness Castle. This exciting project will capitalise on the region’s wealth of natural and cultural heritage and attract visitors from far and wide.

"The UK government is creating opportunities and unlocking growth across Inverness and the Highlands by investing £53 million into the City Region Deal. We are delivering more than £1.4 billion of investment into Growth Deals across Scotland, supporting the future of our economy.”

Sheriff Principal Pyle, Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland and Islands added: “Inverness Castle was specifically built as a Sheriff courthouse and county hall and has served justice and the people of Inverness well for over 180 years. I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has worked in this building, supporting its work and its history over the years. As that chapter closes, I am pleased that the Castle will continue to serve Inverness and its community in this new role.”

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