Streets ahead! Food stalls set for Inverness city centre after Highland Council gives go-ahead for new venture which is set to become the city's latest visitor attraction
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A range of new street food stalls are set to become the latest visitor attraction in the “cultural quarter” of Inverness after Highland Council granted permission for the proposal.
Organisers are waiting for the infrastructure, including stalls and dedicated litter bins, to be delivered and installed – but are hoping the new city centre venture can be up and running “as soon as possible”.
Douglas Hardie, who runs Bad Girl Bakery in Muir of Ord with his partner Jeni, had submitted the planning application for the project, and said it would be the first of its kind in the city after it was approved by council officers last week.
“We are doing something that hasn’t been done before,” he said. “There is no street food available in the centre of Inverness.”
Permission for the street food zone will see the erection of gazebo-type stalls or mobile trailers along the banks of the River Ness near Inverness Cathedral, to link with a wider Highland food trail, which Mr Hardie said has already attracted interest from up to 50 established and new businesses and restaurants.
Believing the move could help with the city’s recovery from Brexit and Covid-19 he added: “We know that food and drink is a driver for urban regeneration and getting people into city centres, so it is very much about ways of bringing people in.
“If we can have street food, we can have restaurants that specialise in a short supply chain with local produce and we are ticking a lot of boxes all at once.
“I would like to see it happen as soon as possible and be going all year round, just trying to change the culture of the city centre to get people coming in here for food and drink.”
He said that, because produce and ingredients would be locally sourced by operators, the initiative should not be as badly affected by the supply chain issues currently hitting the wider hospitality industry.
“It’s definitely a problem and a nightmare for the hospitality industry,” he said.
“The thing that we are hanging all of this on, though, is the idea of local produce – whether it is someone doing Mexican food or Italian food those ingredients, wherever possible, are being supplied locally.”
Inverness Cathedral said it would welcome a possible increase in footfall and visitors in the surrounding area, though it did raise concerns relating to noise and litter when the plans were originally submitted.
Mr Hardie said he had taken those observations on board.
“The whole attraction of this is we want families and people to be drawn into this area.
“The prettiest part of Inverness will have the best food possible, and it is in absolutely no one’s interest whatsoever that there should be an eyesore there.”
Once it is up and running, the street food zone is expected to be in use seven days a week over the summer months and during associated events, while winter usage is likely to be for two or three days a week centred on weekends.
Mr Hardie previously said the broader Highland Food and Drink Trail – a collaborative venture involving various organisations and funders – would take in an area between the Infirmary and Greig Street bridges and other city centre streets.