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Whin Park revamp passes first funding hurdle but more cash is still needed

By Scott Maclennan

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Whin Park in the sun with no visitors.
Whin Park in the sun with no visitors.

Inverness councillors have agreed to support a major upgrade of Whin Park with £385,000 of investment – but as predicted members in some wards were reluctant to offer the full amount sought from playpark funding for their own areas.

Investment is not entirely settled but there are several sources, with two up for discussion at a city committee meeting yesterday – £256,235 from the Scottish Government Play Area fund and £150,000 from Inverness Common Good Fund.

However, Inverness Ness-side ward agreed to award £30,000 for Whin Park against the £51,247 asked for – the cash came from the government playpark funding – due to the state of play areas in that ward.

So if officials want to stick to the budget of £506,235 then the bid to the third funding source – the Inverness Community Regeneration Fund – will have to increase from £100,000 to £121,000.

That will first be submitted later this month to the Inverness Common Good Fund Sub Committee and then considered by members at a special meeting in January.

Inverness leader, Councillor Ian Brown, said: “The vision for Whin Park complements the aims of the council’s ‘Our Future Highland’ Programme and in particular the commitments to work together to improve quality of life and opportunities for Highland people.

“Whin Park is the jewel in the crown of Highland Council’s play areas but has become tired and tarnished through the high level of use it attracts not just from Inverness locals but from families travelling further afield.

“I am delighted that Inverness councillors have agreed to support the redevelopment and hopefully by attracting more funding we can bring the ‘sparkle’ back to this gem of a facility.”

The hugely popular Whin Park attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year and the project aims to make it more accessible, inclusive and carbon neutral with a new council “vision” for the park.

The proposals involve providing a “high-quality play offering for children and young people in Inverness(which) beyond that serves the needs of all young people, regardless of ability and age.”

That means it will have a varied range of sustainable play equipment supported by core facilities, including toilets and the boating pond while in future a “natural play” offering with space for wheeling will be developed.

Phase One of the project is under way and is expected to be completed by next April. After a consultation, it was determined the “top priority” of Phase Two would be the replacement of play equipment to “ensure the site is the main destination park for Inverness city, wider Highland region users, and tourists.”

It is hoped it can be “delivered within the financial package” of £500,000 but if “any element of this funding package not be achievable, the scope of equipment will require to be reduced or programme delayed.”

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