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Inverness High Street is set for a welcome investment to improve its look while Union Street will also benefit from a share of £252,000 in Scottish Government Town Centre Fund investment

By Scott Maclennan

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Inverness High Street at night.
Inverness High Street at night.

Inverness city centre is set for a significant makeover as hundreds of thousands of pounds are set to be spent on the High Street and Union Street while an eyesore building in Drumnadrochit is to be razed to make way for housing.

Inverness has received just over a quarter of a million pounds as part of a £1.06 million Highland-wide pot of government cash to stimulate local construction and support employment amid the Covid-triggered economic crisis.

But the hopes of several bars, a hotel and gallery to access Scottish Government cash to fund improvements to their businesses were dashed when their applications were rejected.

Having invited bids for the cash, Inverness area councillors finally settled on projects in total – six within the city centre, one in Drumnadrochit and one in Beauly.

There was one late application for £30,000 by the Inverness Men’s Shed described as "the final piece in puzzle" to carry out the refurbishment of the Pavilion near Millburn Academy.

Competition for the funds was fierce – collectively the sum sought is £435,000 but councillors have £252,000 at their disposal.

The accepted projects are:

  • High Street, Inverness – Highland Council was awarded £34,510 to “declutter” the High Street, including the removal of “extraneous” street furniture and restoration of paved surfaces.
  • Drumnadrochit – Glen Urquhart Community Council got the full £75,000 to demolish a vacant former shop as part of a wider partnership project to create new community space and enable repurposing of adjacent land for affordable housing.
  • Inverness – the Men’s Shed received £30,000 to round off a long-running project to tackle social isolation and conduct physical repairs to the Pavilion near Millburn Academy with the intention of enhancing its community offering.
  • 7-17 Union Street, Inverness – another Highland Council team wanted £150,000 but was instead given the balance of the remaining cash of almost £113,000 for shopfront improvements as part of the £10 million redevelopment of the former Arnotts building into new flats and retail space.

The rejected projects are:

  • Baron Taylor’s Street – Glen Mhor Ltd asked for £20,800 towards the conversion of premises at 2 Baron Taylor’s Street into 30 flexible offices.
  • MacGregor’s Bar, Academy Street – the owners of the bar wanted £30,400 to put towards a new “gourmet fish bar” at the premises.
  • Browns Gallery, Castle Street – £41,000 was sought to convert vacant premises into an art gallery and events space.
  • Castle Tavern, Castle Street – the pub owners requested £13,000 to improve external space, but in the end council officers said the maximum they could get was £3000 but the proposal was not supported.

While the bid by Beauly Community Council for £70,150 to refurbish public toilets was held in reserve in case there is an underspend in any of the other projects.

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