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Community welcomes new plans for heritage centre at Ardersier Port gateway

By Federica Stefani

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An artist's impression of the heritage centre. Picture by MRH design.
An artist's impression of the heritage centre. Picture by MRH design.

PLANS to create a new heritage centre and café as part of a major development in Ardersier have been welcomed by the local community.

Developers at Ardersier Port have submitted a new application of a multimillion-pound transformation of the site.

The first phase of the scheme will focus on a new gateway entrance that will serve the port and will include a heritage centre focusing on McDermott’s history, as well as a roundabout and a new bus stop.

Culloden and Ardersier councillor Trish Robertson said the proposal is an “excellent idea” which is being welcomed by the community in the village and surrounding area.

Councillor Trish Robertson.
Councillor Trish Robertson.

She said: “The very idea that they will bring some of McDermott’s story in there I think it’s fabulous as they were huge for the area.

“It’s generations past it now, so I think it’s a fabulous idea. I hope it works.

“It’s probably made the proposal even better as this will put the fenced off area further back than originally planned.”

McDermott’s fabrication yard was opened in 1972, at its height employing some 4500 staff and making it the largest private sector employer in the Highlands before a fall in demand finally led to the facility’s closure in 2001.

Cllr Robertson continued: “They are putting a bus stop as well which is excellent, because then we have a bus service there.

“I am surprised that this is happening, nobody expected the heritage centre – it’s a very new development.”

The Port of Ardersier.
The Port of Ardersier.

The planning application was submitted in February and is still under consideration, with relevant consultees still to offer their views.

Further developments proposed for future phases of the project include the creation of a new footpath to provide public access to the area.

This would create a connection through woodlands to the west and the existing network of paths.

The new path would also link into a proposed coastal route to the east which Highland Council has identified to link Inverness and Nairn.

Planning consultant Nicola Drummond said: “This is the first application coming forward and it is for the new gateway entrance that will serve the port as it develops.

“It includes an improvement on road connections – there is a roundabout proposed at the port entrance and that will connect into the B9092 and the road leading to the A96.

“We’ve incorporated new bus stops on either side, which will enhance the public transport connectivity as well.

“The heritage centre is very much based on providing something for the community. It’s about providing an area where the history of the yard – particularly of McDermott’s use of it – can be displayed, and tell the story of McDermott.

“The applicants have acquired one of the old yellow McDermott’s lorries so that will be on display as well.

“It’s all about the story of the site and the work that was undertaken there previously.”

She added: “A café area will be very much for use of the community and will welcome walkers, cyclists or people who might just want a cup of coffee or tea.

“That whole area will be forward of the secured entrance down to the port so you’ll be able to come freely and access the facilities.

“It is very much about engaging with the community and inviting people to see what happens here.”

Representatives of the port met with the community to present the new plans and take on feedback earlier this month.

Developers are also asking Highland Council to give them back ownership of the road connecting the site to the A96, currently an adopted highway although the land on which it sits is owned by the Port.

This will be discussed at today’s Nairnshire area committee.

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