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Tain car park set for revamp; Highland Council town centre grant agreed; projects in Fortrose and North Kessock also agreed

By Hector MacKenzie

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Tain locator , Sign on entrance into Tain . Picture: Gary Anthony..
Tain locator , Sign on entrance into Tain . Picture: Gary Anthony..

AN Easter Ross car park is set to benefit from a town centre improvement fund.

Over £2.3 million of investment is being pumped in to town centres across the Highlands with 30 "transformational projects" about to get under way to stimulate economic investment and to help towns diversify and flourish, Highland Council says.

The Town Centre capital grant fund from the Scottish Government is targeted to encourage town and city centres to diversify and flourish, giving new purpose and creating footfall.

To reflect the council’s commitment to localism over the last few months, area committees have been engaging with communities in helping to identifying and recommend ranked projects that fit in with the criteria.

A cross-party working group has approved the successful projects.

In Ross and Cromarty, they include improvements to the main town centre car park at King Street in Tain.

During the committee meeting members also made the decision to include a project for North Kessock, Fortrose and Rosemarkie to acquire (via community asset transfer) and enhance the Fortrose and Rosemarkie public toilets, and enhance the Kessock layby toilets and provide camper van servicing point and path improvements to the village centre.

Other projects elsewhere include:

Badenoch and Strathspey: Caberfeidh Horizons – Conversion of vacant property into a community hub; Caithness: Caithness Horizons – Refurbishment of Museum & Art Gallery; Isle of Skye and Raasay:

Bayfield Car Park – A partnership project between Highland Council, Portree & Braes Community Trust and the Portree Tennis and Squash club to provide enhanced parking facilities and alleviate pressure on existing infrastructure.

Lochaber: Caol Co-op car park public realm improvements – Caol Regeneration Company leading on the enhancement and improved access of this vitally important neighbourhood centre.

Nairnshire: King Street, Nairn – Regeneration of vacant town centre property into a mixed use (Nairn Citizens Advice Bureau and affordable housing) development.

Sutherland: Dornoch Community Hub – Redevelopment of vacant former police station by Dornoch Area Community Interest Company.

It was agreed that all of the Inverness projects will be presented to the next meeting of the City of Inverness Area Committee so members can consider the applications submitted and then put their ranked list to a meeting of the Town Centre Working Group for a decision to be made.

Chairman of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “The purpose of this fund is to redress the decline of town centres, in particular by bringing empty buildings and unused floorspace back into productive use.

"I would like to thank communities for putting forward projects and to the cross-party working group and Area Committees for helping take these forward. With less than 12 months to spend the money allocated to the Highlands there is a lot of work to achieve in a tight timescale but I look forward to seeing work get under way on all the projects that will help towards ensuring our town centres can thrive for many years to come.”

In partnership with COSLA, the Scottish Government have provided £50m capital to set up the Town Centre Fund 2019-2020. Every local authority has received an allocation of the fund based on an equal weighting of the number of towns in a local authority, where a towns is a locality with a population equal to or greater than 1000 people, and the local authority population.

The total allocation ring-fenced for Highland is £2,965,000, – the fifth highest allocation in Scotland.

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