Inverness traders fear impact of multiple redevelopment works in city's Union Street
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Worried traders on an Inverness city centre street are raising concerns over the damaging impact of three major redevelopments.
While welcoming investment in the future of Union Street, the business owners are frustrated by closure of loading bays and the impact of scaffolding on footfall.
They blame poor advance planning by Highland Council for exacerbating the impact just as the city centre strives to recover from lockdown.
Work started in March on revitalising the former Arnotts department store to create shopping units and residential flats, with completion expected by autumn next year.
Roof renovation work on the opposite side of Union Street has been progressing for several months.
A third section of scaffolding was raised outside the Union Street entrance to the Victorian Market where a £1.6 million revamp should be complete by January.
Colin Craig, owner of the Oil and Vinegar store, told how one delivery from Perth had to be turned away.
He said: “We’re very happy there is investment in Union Street, but it is disappointing that a better solution hasn’t been found.
“It has been very tricky for deliveries. Also, there’s not been a lot of help from contractors on business signposting around scaffolding.
“We did lose one delivery from the central belt who couldn’t get parked, and had to go all the way back south.
“We’ve tried to make people aware we’re still open, but it’s not helping.
“It is off-putting to customers and creates the impression not much is happening behind the scaffolding.
“The developments should be very exciting for the city centre, but the actual management of it all that has been unfortunate.”
Several other businesses have echoed Mr Craig’s concerns.
Rose Smith, owner of Gunsmiths Bar, said: “We’ve spoken to the council because it affects our deliveries.
“We had a meeting with them, and they were supposed to temporarily move the disabled bays to ease problems – that was four weeks ago.
“I don’t know why a lot of this work wasn’t done last year when we were in lockdown.
“We actually had a toilet dumped outside our premises just before we reopened. As traders, we’re all happy with investment in the street, but the streets are dusty and a mess in general.”
A council spokesman said it was contacting city centre stakeholders about ongoing efforts to co-ordinate the high-profile projects.
He admitted they were having a “significant impact on the limited amount of road space available” for loading, and for buses and taxis, adding: “The council apologises for any inconvenience caused by the limited amount of road space.
“Once completed, the cumulative effect of these projects should result in lasting benefits and long-term economic resilience for city centre businesses.”