Highland Council approves significant capital investment programme

The White Bridge is set to be replaced

The Highland Council has approved nearly £8 million of capital investment in town and countryside regeneration projects over the next nine years.

The projects include upgrade of countryside assets, access to and within the countryside, quality public space enhancements, sense of place projects, town and village entrance environments, interpretation and visitor information.

A project aimed at improving the visitor experience at the popular location of the Old Man of Storr site on the Isle of Skye was awarded £530,000. The local authority is in discussion with the Staffin Community Trust (SCT) about the purchase or lease of the82 hectare site, or part of it, for the community benefit of Staffin. Potential proposals could involve a new off-road main car park, toilets, interpretation and refreshment kiosk.

Other significant capital allocations are £750,000 for Town & Countryside Regeneration Community Initiatives; £550,000 for Inverness Townscape Heritage; £505,000 for Coghill Footbridge, Wick; £475,000 for Highland Scenic Routes; £430,000 for Strathpeffer Spa Gardens; £425,000 for Chanonry Point, Fortrose; £361,000 for Wester Ross Visitor Hubs; £325,000 for Green Infrastructure; and £325,000 for Long Distance Routes.

Councillors have also given their approval for £2.25m to be spent on constructing a replacement of The White Bridge by Cawdor which carries the B9090 road over the River Nairn.

The bridge is the oldest structure in the council’s estate and following a safety inspection, a preliminary design report compiled by the council’s structural engineers has recommended that a new single span replacement bridge be built.

Councillors agreed to treat the need for a new crossing as a priority therefore the project will move forward to the design and implementation stage with completion expected within 2-3 years.

Councillor Audrey Sinclair, who chairs the planning, development and infrastructure committee, said: “The projects approved for investment support delivery of a wide range of ‘Highland First’ priorities. Particularly welcome is the increasing emphasis on a pro-active approach to developing better ways to work with communities and the potential for delivery of significant benefits in remote rural locations.

“Proposals to capitalise on our superlative scenic heritage are welcome and, this package of projects supports our tourist industry right across Highland. I look forward to following the development of some exciting new initiatives in the coming years.”

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