Highland Council agrees £55m costs to progress West Link and sports facilities

HighlandsThe Highland Council has agreed detailed costs set out for the West Link and associated sports facilities and to continue to progress the scheme.

It is anticipated that almost £4 in economic benefit would be achieved for every £1 spent on building the West Link road alone.

The scheme enables construction jobs and housing development and the revenue that would bring to the region. Developer contributions of £3.75m are anticipated to be received following the development of land for housing.

The West Link will also reduce traffic congestion, improve journey times and support active travel through cycling and walking.

The detailed costs of the West Link scheme are reported at £36.6m (at December 2014 prices). This compares to the cost of £34,398 reported in September 2013.

Due to the extended construction programme, with works anticipated to be complete in 2020/21 and applying construction inflation over this period an allocation in the capital programme of £43.35m was approved.

If the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) and associated footpath orders are approved, work can be progressed to advertise for contractors and enabling works can begin this Autumn. The main construction for stage 1 (east of the canal) would then commence in Spring 2016 with completion in late 2017. Stage 2 would be completed in 2020 following the relocation of the golf course.

The council also approved the enhanced sports facilities made possible by the West Link project. Funding was agreed for the Rugby pitches and facilities at Canal Parks (£4.1m) and the redevelopment of Torvean Golf Course (£8.2m).

The Canal Park facilities are currently in the pre application consultation stage prior to formal planning submission in April 2015.

SportScotland funding of £0.5m will be applied for towards this project and the Scottish Rugby Union has indicated £100k may also be available.

The existing facilities will be enhanced to provide a community facility managed by Highlife Highland with completion programmed for 2018.

A planning application for the detailed layout and design of the golf course development was submitted on 23 January 2015.

The layout allows the golf course to be located within one area of land north of the A82, which is preferable to the current arrangement of golfers having to cross the A82 and General Booth Road. The new golf course is programmed to become playable in 2019.

Chair of planning development and infrastructure committee, Cllr Thomas Prag, said: “Council agreed that Option 6 was the right option and that this was an opportunity to aspire for something better by asking for enhanced sports facilities for the benefit of the whole of Inverness. It is important to recognise that the additional funding is for the enhancement we asked for. The project also frees up substantial amounts of land which gives us significant additional opportunities.”

Dependent on the outcome of a City-Region Deal, Councillors also agreed to progress with an ambitious Regional Sports Facility for the Highlands, which could include a significant contribution by SportScotland of £5m to the project.

A feasibility study has been commissioned through Highlife Highland for the potential to create the regional sports facility and the outcome of this study will be reported back to the council.

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