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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Highland Council Hosts Event on The Proposed Design for Academy Street 

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Highland Council hosted a meeting at Inverness Town House to present further information on the proposed design for Academy Street.

Chaired by City Leader Councillor Ian Brown, stakeholders representing various groups in Inverness including businesses, tourism, transport, emergency services, active travel and protected characteristics groups were given further detail on the proposed design for Academy Street which could be submitted to Sustrans for funding from the Scottish Government’s Places for Everyone programme later this year.

Attendees were shown detailed designs of the proposal as well as a film which explained how this project is the latest initiative designed to regenerate and reinvigorate Inverness city centre and increase its appeal for residents, visitors and businesses and make Inverness a prime destination.

Other projects, some completed such as the West Link and swing bridge, Hydro Ness and the Victorian Market, as well as projects underway including Inverness Castle, and projects due to start as part of the Inverness Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration programme (Bught Park, Northern Meeting Park and Inverness Castle Energy Centre) also formed part of the presentation around the vision for the future of the city.

Key features of the proposed design for Academy Street include:

  • Widening of pavements to make it more attractive for pedestrians as well as hospitality businesses who will be supported to explore options for pavement seating for customers.
  • Introduction of a bus lane which will also be used by taxis, emergency services and cyclists.
  • A reduction in private vehicles to less than 2,000 a day achieved by changing how private vehicles enter and exit Academy Street:
    • Cars coming from Millburn Road will turn left into Union Street and emerge from Queensgate. There will be no left turn for cars exiting Queensgate, instead vehicles will turn right or continue along Strothers Lane.
    • Vehicles approaching Academy Street from Chapel Street will turn left at Strothers Lane.
    • Drivers coming into the city via Chapel Street and Church Street will not be able to access Queensgate but will instead turn left onto Post Office Avenue and then left onto Academy Street.
  • No change to the quantity of parking, disabled parking, loading bays and taxi ranks.
  • Introduction of trees and planting.

Speaking about the event, Cllr Ian Brown said:

“The event this morning was a good opportunity to give more information about the proposed design for Academy Street.

“We hosted this event following feedback given after the three-day public information sessions we ran back in March as we felt that it was necessary to show more detail on the design and provide further clarity.

“I am grateful to everybody who attended and took the time to come and find out more and I hope that it provided clarity and, in some cases, allayed concerns regarding the proposal.

“We want to make Academy Street a place for everyone.

“As the gateway to the Highland capital, Academy Street plays a significant role in welcoming visitors from near and far and we are confident that the proposed design will enhance the city centre and make Inverness a prime destination.”

The event also included a reference to the ‘Inverness Strategy’ and The Highland Council plans to host a public exhibition later this year which will showcase recent and forthcoming development and investment across Inverness as part of the Inverness Strategy.

Malcolm Macleod, Depute Chief Executive and Executive Chief Officer for Infrastructure and Environment and The Highland Council, explained:

“Since 2018, over £165 million has been invested in Inverness from both the public and private sector to improve the city for everyone as a hub for the Highlands and Islands.

“Key projects include the completion of the West Link and new swing bridge as well as the refurbished Victorian Market.

“Today we started to talk about the ‘Inverness Strategy’ which is all about celebrating what is being delivered by businesses, communities and the public sector across the city.

“The proposal for Academy Street is a key project in the Inverness Strategy and is aligned to our desired outcomes of the draft Inverness City Centre Masterplan, namely that Inverness will be a prime destination; a living city; a green and healthy city; a zero-carbon city; an accessible and connected city; and a digital city.”

The draft Inverness City Centre Masterplan sits alongside the Local Development Plan and will be subject to consultation.

New visuals of the proposed design for Academy Street as well as a video about the project can be accessed at https://academystreetproposals.commonplace.is/ and www.highland.gov.uk/academystreet where comprehensive questions and answers about the proposal can also be viewed.

The Highland Council is also encouraging people to submit feedback either on Commonplace or by sending an email to activetravel@highland.gov.uk.

All feedback submitted about the proposed design for Academy Street will be considered by the City of Inverness Area Committee when it meets on 28 August and a decision will be taken on whether or not to proceed the proposal and apply to Sustrans for funding from the Scottish Government’s Places for Everyone programme later this year.

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