Proactive role for communities in steering ambitious Fort William 2040 Vision
The Highland Council has agreed an ambitious future vision for Fort William known as Fort William 2040. On Wednesday (23 January) the Council’s Lochaber Committee agreed the outcome of a major consultation on the potential future of the town and the wider Lochaber area, and agreed an innovative way of working with communities to help steer future developments.
The FW2040 consultation took place in late 2018 and highlighted four key priorities for the future. The first theme focuses on “A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE” – with a unique landscape and distinctive local communities. Sufficient and affordable housing is a key issue for the area, as well as facilities and accommodation for visitors, with a need to attract and retain a diverse range of residents, visitors and enterprises.
“A CONNECTED PLACE” – highlights the need to maximise opportunities for a diverse range of transport and other connecting networks including new technologies.
The importance of water and the need to take full advantage of existing water assets to support industry, tourism and communities is captured in the theme of A PLACE FACING WATER.
Delivering the FW2040 collective ambition relies on new ways of working based on strong partnership and good communication the overarching theme of A PLACE WITH COLLECTIVE AMBITION.
A number of significant developments and service and infrastructure improvements are under active consideration for Fort William over the next few years, including major new employment opportunities, a new hospital and educational facilities. These projects will help to provide new jobs and improve public services for the town and the wider Lochaber area. To help plan for these changes a draft masterplan is being prepared , which we have called Fort William 2040 or FW2040, showing how the town and the wider Lochaber area could best take advantage of these developments.
The FW2040 consultation was envisaged as a way to collaborate with local communities, businesses, landowners and potential investors to create a vision for the type of place people wanted Fort William to be, in its wider Lochaber context and consider how particular developments or projects might help to achieve that vision.
An open public event was organised in partnership with officers from Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, with over 120 participants including members of the public, local community groups, business representatives, public agencies and the private sector. Separate sessions were held with Community Councils and local schools.
This collaborative approach will now been taken forward to the implementation stage and the Lochaber Committee have agreed to invite Community Council representatives to work with them in monitoring and steering how future developments are contributing to the FW2040 vision.
Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “I am delighted that so many people took part in the FW2040 process so far and have contributed to an exciting and ambitious vision.”
Chair of the Lochaber Committee, Councillor Andrew Baxter said: “The Lochaber Committee looks forward to inviting Community Council representatives to help steer the future of their community and to help ensure that the town and the wider Lochaber area can fulfil its enormous potential.”