The Highland Council is seeking views from the public on proposed designs for Academy Street over the course of the next few months.
Today, visuals have been published on a dedicated website set up to showcase the vision for Academy Street and to gather feedback.
The visuals can be viewed at: https://academystreetproposals.commonplace.is/
Over the next few weeks, businesses, specific interest groups including those working with disabled people and the general public will be invited to attend events to find out more about the plans for Academy Street and, importantly, to provide their input to the proposed designs.
Thereafter, the designs will be available to view at key areas in the city centre including the bus station, train station, Eastgate Shopping Centre and Victorian Market.
The Highland Council has secured funding through ‘Places for Everyone’ for the design of Academy Street, with the aim of making it a more attractive and healthier place for people.
‘Places for Everyone’ is a scheme funded by the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland and is administered by Sustrans.
The funding is contingent on identifying a viable alternative cycle path to Academy Street which enables cyclists to safely cross the city.
Speaking about the future of Academy Street, Councillor Ken Gowans, Chair of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, said:
“Over the years, Academy Street has been the focus of much debate.
“It is the gateway to the city, and we have the opportunity to improve the quality of the space, making it a more attractive and healthier place for everyone that uses it.
“People and public transport are very much at the heart of the proposed design, so I hope people take up this opportunity to engage with this important initiative and share their opinions.”
The central focus of the design for Academy Street is to widen the pavement and increase space for pedestrians, something that was trialled during the COVID-19 pandemic when temporary measures were introduced to Academy Street as part of the ‘Spaces for People’ project.
Funded by the Scottish Government, this was a Highland-wide initiative that not only provided physical distancing but also improved the opportunity to support people to travel by healthier, low carbon transport such as walking, wheeling and cycling.
In 2021, Inverness Councillors considered the progress made in implementing the Spaces for People project in Inverness and how its interventions had transformed the city centre.
They voted to retain the Spaces for People intervention in Academy Street and to replace the temporary Spaces for People measures currently in place with more accessible and safer measures.
Before installing permanent measures, it was agreed that a full accessibility assessment would be undertaken which is now underway.
Emily Gait, Grants Manager for Places for Everyone at Sustrans, said:
“We are committed to work with The Highland Council to make Inverness city centre more accessible for people walking, wheeling and cycling.
“We would encourage people to take the time and have their say on the proposal for Academy Street and Inverness city centre.”
Members of the public will be invited to provide their feedback via an online event later this month.
People can also provide feedback by visiting https://academystreetproposals.commonplace.is/en-GB and businesses are invited to take a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7ZHK5DV.
All views with be collated and reviewed before the revised design for Academy Street is shared in the autumn.