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New lease of life for old Strathaird Salmon site

By Rosemary Lowne

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Fraser Grieve, Highlands and Islands manager at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (left) with William Gray, managing director of ARK Estates at Bridgepoint
Fraser Grieve, Highlands and Islands manager at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (left) with William Gray, managing director of ARK Estates at Bridgepoint

HUNDREDS of jobs could be created in Inverness and millions of pounds generated for the local economy by the redevelopment of a prime piece of industrial land.

Inverness based property development company, ARK Estates, yesterday announced it has acquired the former Strathaird Salmon site.

It has not revealed how much is paid for the plot, but did admit it planned to invest at least £3 million in it.

Managing director William Gray said:"We believe this to be one of the largest value business acquisitions in the Highlands for some time and the potential for economic development on this site is exponential,"

 Mr Gray, who is also MD of building firm, William Gray Construction, said the new development, named Bridgepoint, will be put on the market for sale or to let to one or more businesses, possibly for industrial or office use.

About 20 new jobs will be created as a spin-off for Mr Gray’s construction firm which will be brought in to clear the site, including demolishing some of the poorer quality buildings and sheds, in the next six weeks.

The five acres of vacant land, on Longman Drive, was occupied by Strathaird Salmon before it closed in 2009 with the loss of over 300 jobs, a blow for the Highland Capital.

Mr Gray added: "This acquisition represents a significant investment and offers businesses a fantastic opportunity to relocate or expand to the Longman.

"We are willing to offer the property either sub-divided or as a whole and we expect to secure early deals for this development which benefits from excellent transport links and a skilled local work force."

Mr Gray said he remained upbeat about the prospects for the site, despite the challenging economic climate.

"I spoke to certain individuals and identified that there is strong demand in Inverness and strong demand from businesses outside the area to come to Inverness so I feel very confident about our ability to develop the site going forward.

"I think we’ll see a significant amount of jobs created on this site and could run way in excess of one hundred or hundreds depending on what the site is used for."

Three options of how the land could be developed include:

* splitting the existing buildings and refurbishing the site for flexible space from 5,000 sq ft to 50,000 sq ft

* demolishing the buildings and creating up to five, one acre plots made available to buy or lease * refurbishing the existing buildings to offer two 10,000 sq ft industrial buildings leaving some land for further development

Mr Gray was keen to stress that options for developing the site are flexible.

Visiting the site yesterday, Fraser Grieve, Highlands and Islands manager at Scottish council for development and industry, believes it will boost the local economy.

"It’s good to see a site that has been lying empty brought back into use and Willie having the confidence to do so," he said.

Meanwhile, Stewart Nicol, Inverness chamber of commerce chief executive, welcomed the news especially given the site’s sad history.

"It was a major blow when Strathaird Salmon closed because a number of jobs were lost which caused quite a significant negative impact so it’s good to see something good come out of it a number of years down the line," he said.

Danny Alexander, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey MP added his congratulations.

"Inverness has enormous potential for many investors," he said.

"It is very good news that the site at Bridgepoint will be developed for new and expanding businesses — strengthening the local economy and creating jobs."

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