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People invited to have their say on the future use of the Northern Meeting Park in Inverness which was built in 1864 as the world’s first Highland Games stadium

By Val Sweeney

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A public consultation is ongoing over the future of the Northern Meeting Park.
A public consultation is ongoing over the future of the Northern Meeting Park.

People are being invited to put forward their ideas on the future use of a large green space near the centre of Inverness.

A virtual community meeting will take place tomorrow as part of a public consultation on how the Northern Meeting Park – built in 1864 as the world’s first Highland Games stadium – might be opened up more to the public.

It is owned by Highland Council but access is usually limited to a few events and some user groups while the Victorian grandstand building is in a poor state of repair.

As part of ongoing efforts to explore how it might make a greater contribution to the vitality and vibrancy of the city, a virtual event will be staged tomorrow between noon and 1.30pm.

It is being organised by Community Enterprise which was commissioned by Inverness City Heritage Trust (ICHT) to carry out a community consultation and research how use of the park could be enhanced and enjoyed for the principal benefit of the area’s residents.

Early feedback reveals the most popular option is to stage events for the whole community and beyond, activities for children and young people, activities for families and as a place to socialise informally.

A carefully-balanced mix of community and sports use with developments in keeping with the park’s heritage was also important to respondents.

Many felt that enhancing the park’s use would make the area more attractive and contribute to the local economy.

At tomorrow’s event, participants will be given the opportunity to suggest project ideas and feedback on possible options.

Alison Tanner, of ICHT, said there had already been some good feedback from various groups interested in using the space but stressed that no plans have yet been drawn up.

“We don’t have a hard and fast plan,” she said.

“That is what this event is about.

“We are not saying, ‘Here is the final result and what do you think?’

“It is still very much about making sure people have their say at this stage.”

Ms Tanner said their views would be fed into a draft plan which would help inform Highland Council in making a decision about the park’s future use.

She said that ideally tomorrow’s event would have been held face-to-face but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant it had to take place online.

She said it would be informal and urged people to register to join in.

In recent years, campaigners have explored the possibility of transferring ownership of the site to a community-run group with the aim of transforming it into a recreational space for all to use.

They included members of the Northern Counties Cricket Club which plays its home games at the park.

But they were dealt a blow two years ago when a funding bid to carry out a feasibility study and create a business plan was turned down.

In October, meanwhile, Highland Council heard it had been successful in its levelling up fund bid for its Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration Project, which includes the Northern Meeting Park.

It will enable the provision of a ground source heat ambient loop for the grandstand and pavilion with potential to supply nearby properties.

To register for the online discussion event, go to bit.ly/northernmeetingpark.

Anyone needing help to join in with the meeting should email kate@communityenterprise.co.uk, or call 07760 753293.

Future potential of historic green site in Inverness back on the table

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