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Developers remain committed to building new hotel in Inverness despite difficulties caused by coronavirus restrictions

By Val Sweeney

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An artist's impression of the proposed 162-bedroom Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Academy Street.
An artist's impression of the proposed 162-bedroom Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Academy Street.

The developers of a proposed 162-bedroom hotel in Inverness city centre remain committed to the project despite difficulties caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

Detailed plans were submitted last month to demolish the popular live music venue, the Ironworks, in Academy Street and build a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel on the site.

The hotel proposed by Bricks Group will cater for up to 100,000 guests a year and include a 24-hour gym. It will create 90 construction jobs and 65 permanent jobs afterwards.

Allan Davidson, managing director of Bricks Capital, said the company remains committed to the project.

“Despite the present economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus lockdown, our funds are in place to make the investment and we will not seek to defer or delay it," he said.

“Market evidence shows that there is still new hotel space needed to enable Inverness to remain a tourism hotspot.”

Mr Davidson said due to coronavirus restrictions, Highland Council was unable to hold a planning committee to consider the application until August at the earliest.

“We look forward to seeking the necessary consent for a project which would be a major economic boost for the city centre as well as for the council’s plans to regenerate Academy Street,” he said.

"We have previously committed to give the Ironworks promoter up to 12 months to relocate to a new music venue in Inverness so our entry to begin construction is dependent on how soon that relocation can take place.”

He highlighted that market trends showing if Inverness was unable to cope with visitor volume, people would go elsewhere.

But Bricks’ new hotel in the Highland Capital could accommodate up to 100,000 guests a year.

Mr Davidson, an Invernessian, indicated that, given a fair wind in the planning process, he would personally oversee the construction and operation of the new hotel in his home city.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has said the plans will have "a significant adverse impact" on the setting of the A-listed Old High Church – the city's oldest church.

Although HES said it is not lodging an objection, Fortrose resident Morag Macdonald has registered her opposition, stating the seven-storey hotel will rise significantly above neighbouring buildings and will dominate the skyline, impacting on views from the riverside.

Further information is also being sought by Highland Council's transport planning team, noting just five car parking spaces are proposed – a shortfall of 163 according to guidelines plus additional staff parking.

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