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DREW HENDRY: Making changes that put our communities first

By Drew Hendry

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Inverness city.
Inverness city.

As we welcome a new year, it’s a moment to reflect on our progress with the Inverness City 2035 vision. When we started this journey two years ago in partnership with Highland Council, HIE and other stakeholders, we did so with a clear purpose: to create a city plan that equally values our community’s wellbeing alongside infrastructure.

Traditionally, city plans have heavily leaned towards infrastructure. While recognising its importance, we aimed to ensure the wellbeing of our communities was not just a footnote but at the heart of decision-making.

What followed was the launch of Highland Council’s Inverness City Vision and subsequent Inverness City Strategy, providing us with an infrastructure roadmap.

Rightly so, this past year has seen a lot of focus on those infrastructure projects within the city centre, and debate has been robust – essential in any decision-making process.

And there has been a lot of progress too. As co-chair of the board overseeing the Bught, Northern Meeting Park and other initiatives for redevelopment, I’ve witnessed firsthand how these are more than physical constructions; they are catalysts for community leadership and connection.

But, again, infrastructure is just one part of the story. The heart of our city is its people. Their ideas, aspirations and concerns should shape plans for the future.

As much as it is exciting to see a world-class tourist destination develop, we also need parks for our children and communities where older people feel safe. Our people need economic prosperity and wellbeing prosperity.

Similarly, new housing developments are welcome but cannot continue to be built with the promise of new amenities that never appear – that’s not the right progress.

That’s why I urge you to continue playing a vital role in shaping our city. Inverness 2035 was a starting point for the discussion between us all.

For my part, this year, I will continue to host engagement events focused on the well-being of our communities.

I have already learned so much more about the solutions and workarounds communities already have in place.

In fact, I can often offer advice to community groups based on ideas shared by other community groups at events or meetings.

I genuinely believe that by continuing these conversations and sharing ideas, we can ensure that as our city grows, it does so in a way that supports the wellbeing of all its residents.

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