Focus on local infrastructure in Lochaber

highland councilTransport infrastructure and a new hospital have been named by members of Highland Council’s Lochaber Committee among a set of strategic priorities to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

The priorities are listed under a number of headings that also include marine infrastructure and an increase of housing.

At last week’s Committee meeting, members had the chance to discuss the list of proposed priorities before unanimously agreeing them.

Chair of the Committee, Councillor Thomas MacLennan, said: “Building on the localism agenda and the increased delegation of decision-making to local communities has given us the perfect opportunity as councillors to consider local priorities.

“The list of strategic council priorities we now have reflects the wide geographical diversity of our area and sets out our ambitions to make Lochaber an attractive place to live, learn, work and visit. This is very much a starting point and a working document which will be regularly reviewed and updated . Its giving an ongoing commitment to ensure our area is growing and sustainable. We’re all determination to see the priorities we have agreed delivered and having them will help us focus our future work.”

Highland Council depute leader, Councillor Alasdair Rhind, joined the committee to discuss their key priorities and look at ways the council can help progress work on addressing them.

He said: “The council has existing Highland-wide priorities but the local Members have done a great job in agreeing priorities for their own Wards. Coming here today has given me a much clearer understanding of the specific issues affecting people in Lochaber and the work needed to address these. Having a clear vision with priorities is a great way forward and will help the wider council when it comes to looking at ways we can support the work of the local committee.”

The Lochaber Committee priorities include:

  • A830 relief road– construction of this road will remove around 60 per cent of traffic from a recognised A82 choke point, delivering more effective traffic movement and freeing up land for commercial use
  • Transport infrastructure– working with the public and private sector will deliver a more efficient and joined up transport system. This will provide a trunk road network fit for purpose and the infrastructure to create a multi-modal hub allowing sea, rail and road transport to work seamlessly and offering a safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists. A long-term sustainable solution for crossing the Corran Narrows will also be investigated.
  • Marine infrastructure– providing appropriate infrastructure such as pontoons and a breakwater combined with effective management structure (eg a harbour authority) will maximise the potential from marine tourism, including cruise ships

  • STEM Centre– supporting West Highland College UHI’s ambition to develop a Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Centre will ensure that Lochaber continues to strengthen and diversify its education provision, making it well-placed to serve the economy
  • New Belford Hospital– replacing the existing 1960s Belford Hospital with a state of the art facility which will deliver outstanding health care for the next 50 years will ensure the well-being of the residents and visitors to the area
  • Increase housing and specialist support provision– work with partners to provide the mechanism to deliver suitable housing with the most appropriate support in areas of identified need.
  • Indoor Training Centre– assisting the delivery of an Indoor Training Centre will reduce the demands on local pitches which suffer from the extreme wet-weather conditions allowing a greater range of sports to be enjoyed with the resulting health and social benefits.

  • Multi-use indoor centre– extending visitors’ length of stay and increasing the social well-being of the area can be delivered by developing all weather visitor attractions offering a range of uses for residents and visitors.
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