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Ironworks music venue in Inverness will have 12 months to find a new home

By Gregor White

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The Ironworks will have to move if plans for a new hotel are approved later this year.
The Ironworks will have to move if plans for a new hotel are approved later this year.

Developers behind plans for a new hotel say the Ironworks music venue will be given time to relocate

After the outcry that followed the revelation plans are to be lodged to build a new 162-bedroom Courtyard by Marriott hotel on a site currently occupied by the Ironworks developers have insisted they want to give the venue as much time as possible to move.

A proposal of application notice (PAN) has already been submitted to the council, including proposals for a public consultation event to be held at the Mercure Hotel, Church Street from 2-8pm on Thursday, September 19.

A full planning application is expected to follow, with a decision potentially being made in December.

The proposals come from London-based development company Bricks Capital whose managing director, Alan Davidson, is a former Inverness resident who started out working in the city’s hotel trade.

“As an Invernessian, I am delighted at the opportunity to open a hotel in my home city,” he said.

“I’ll be overseeing the construction and operation when the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel opens in summer 2021.”

Mr Davidson was business development manager of Inverness’s former Caledonian Hotel, which is now the Mercure.

He said: “I started as the kitchen porter in the old Mercury Hotel and later I believe I was the last wine waiter the Caledonian Hotel had.”

He confirmed that the operator of the Ironworks venue has signed a legal agreement with the building’s owner accepting notice to vacate if/ when the hotel receives planning consent.

But Mr Davidson said there will be no urgent need for the venue to close even in the event of that happening.

“Site testing works can take place while the Ironworks is still open – and we’re keen for the venue to host music events for as long as possible,” he said.

Speaking exclusively to the Courier Mr Davidson said discussions with council planning officers about the hotel had begun in January and the firm had responded positively to feedback it had already received.

Artist's impression of how the proposed hotel development would look on the current Ironworks site.
Artist's impression of how the proposed hotel development would look on the current Ironworks site.

Two online petitions set up to save the Ironworks after the plans were announced have now garnered more than 7000 signatures between them.

A petition run on the change.org site has already been submitted to Inverness Central councillor Richard Laird, Highland Council chief executive Donna Manson and director of development and infrastructure Stuart Black, but is still being signed by concerned music lovers.

Bruce MacGregor, who runs MacGregor’s bar across the road from the 1000 capacity venue and plays with the band Blazin’ Fiddles, said it would be a real shame if the venue was lost.

He added: “I suppose the question is how to find another venue and is it going to be in the city centre? What capacity would it be?

“Twelve months is not a lot of time to make it seamless – a lot of acts are putting their tours together at least 12 months in advance. It will be a shame to see it go.

“You want Inverness to be one of those places where bands on their way up are able to play.”

He said the level of support against the demolition was good but also questioned how many of the people who had signed the petitions actually attended gigs there regularly.

He added: “The problem with the Ironworks is it is a desirable site for a hotel.

“We need a range of venues in any city. If the Ironworks does go we need people supporting the new venue, whatever they manage to get.”

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