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Transport hub on track after Highland mail sorting depot is sold

By Louise Glen

Keys to the sorting office in Strothers Lane were handed over last week.
Keys to the sorting office in Strothers Lane were handed over last week.

An ambitious plan to revolutionise transport in Inverness has taken a giant step forward.

As exclusively revealed by the Inverness Courier three months ago, Network Rail has now purchased the former Royal Mail sorting office in the city’s Strothers Lane.

It gives the green light to a development which will transform the Highland capital by creating a state-of-the-art transport hub at its heart.

The deal, for an undisclosed fee, was finally sealed last week and news of the purchase has been roundly welcomed by business leaders across the city.

It is understood that Network Rail plans a major revamp of the area, with slicker connections between the train, bus and taxi networks.

The property at the heart of the deal has stood empty for almost a year.

Agents Graham and Sibbald confirmed the purchase had been completed and keys were handed over on Wednesday.

The Courier understands that Network Rail is close to securing other deals to acquire several other sites around the railway and bus stations in the Highland capital.

It is believed the TK Maxx store could also form part of the plan.

Stewart Nicol, chief executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, said: “It’s fantastic news. We knew it was coming, but it’s great to have a positive story among everything else that is happening at the moment with coronavirus.

“I am presuming it is a real opportunity for Inverness and the Highlands to have a transport hub in the middle of the city centre.

“This is an investment to secure something significant for the city, and Network Rail should be praised for pursuing it and hopefully, in the months to come, making it happen.”

Mike Smith, manager of the Inverness Business Improvement District (BID) said the purchase by Network Rail offered an opportunity like never before for people arriving in the city centre. He said: “I think it is fantastic news that Network Rail has bought the former Royal Mail sorting office.

“It will open up massive opportunities for a transport hub to be developed. The size and scale of the numbers of people in Inverness and those arriving here merits this plan and it is something that we are very much looking forward to in the future.

“It will allow us to welcome people into the city.”

Fraser Grieve, the regional director of the SCDI (Scottish Council for Development and Industry), said he was sure the disjoint that existed at present within public transport would be resolved by the scheme.

“This is a fantastic development in the heart of the Highlands,” he said. “I think we all hoped that this would go ahead as it marks a change in the way people will be able to get to and from the city centre.

“This is a fantastic piece of news in that it will really make a difference as the main transport hub for the Highlands.

“It will be a great opportunity to take a look at the transport into the city. There has been a disjoint for travellers and this business decision by Network Rail will see plenty of opportunities for business and development in the city centre.”

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