Success for Highland Council Levelling Up Fund bid

The Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson has welcomed the announcement in the UK Government’s Autumn Budget and Spending Review that the local authority has been successful in its ambitious levelling up fund bid for its Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration Project.

The bid for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Constituency centred around linking up Inverness Castle, the Northern Meeting Park and Bught Park. Under the banner of the Inverness Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration Project – the bid brought together the delivery of three complementary projects that combined, will drive the environmental, cultural and economic regeneration of Inverness.

The projects, located along the river in the heart of the city, will not only provide transformational cultural opportunities for residents and visitors but will create more accessible space and the proposed integrated renewable energy sources will deliver economic benefits to local businesses and help meet the UK and Scottish Governments’ zero-carbon targets.

In respect of the Inverness Castle Project, the focus of the bid to the Levelling Up Fund is to create an innovative wastewater heat recovery energy centre in Castle Street, which will be a visitor facility in its own right in Inverness city centre. Waste-water heat recovery will provide heat energy for the transformed Inverness Castle and will potentially also supply other adjacent properties. This award is a new and additional aspect of the existing plans for transformation of Inverness Castle, and creation of the energy centre would not have been possible without support from the Levelling Up fund.

The bid also seeks to renovate the historic Northern Meeting Park, which is the largest green space in the heart of Inverness and has been home to the city’s Highland Games since 1864. This funding will see the development of a second energy centre to provide Ground Source Heat Ambient Loop providing heat energy for the Northern Meeting Park Grandstand and Pavilion, with potential to supply other adjacent properties.

The funding will also benefit the Bught Park Stadium Complex, where a third Energy Centre will provide a Ground Source Ambient Loop providing heat energy to the grandstand, to a new shinty based centre, to welfare facilities and will also have potential to supply other adjacent properties.

The proposal presents three strategically aligned, complementary projects that significantly impact the regeneration and cultural offer in the city.

The Council is also delighted to welcome the funding of £219,096 for the Old Forge pub, Inverie, and will continue to work with the community in Knoydart to strengthen resilience.

Cllr Davidson said: “The Council submitted a number of bids to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund and Community Renewal Fund totalling over £80 million. We are very pleased to learn today that the bid for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey Constituency has been successful centred around its Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration Project.  Never has the need for regeneration projects to be as closely aligned with the Net Zero agenda as today.  These projects will allow re-use and regeneration of key historical landmarks in the City, that will complement the already significant investment being made in the Castle and other city centre projects.  Although we are disappointed that our North Coast 500 and Wick Regeneration bids were unsuccessful, we do look forward to feedback from UK Government, and the opportunity to resubmit amended bids in future rounds.  We will also submit a bid for the Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross constituency in the next round”.

Cllr Davidson added: “We also look forward to learning more detail on the Chancellor’s announcement of ‘a further £8 million from Project Gigabit to deliver full fibre to 3,600 premises in Scotland’ and the value of and information of how this will be delivered in Highland.

“The announcement that flights between airports in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland will be subject to a new lower rate of air passenger duty from April 2023 is also welcomed for the economy of the Highland region.

“I want to thank our staff, our partners and our communities for working together in a very short timescale to bring a huge amount of work together to help achieve this successful levelling up find bid and while we would all have wanted more of the Highland bids to be successful; we are thankful that Inverness Castle redevelopment bid has been awarded. The success of this bid reflects our ambition, aspiration and commitment to our communities in making a difference.

“This much-welcomed injection of funding will help to kick start our economic recovery and to promote growth, regeneration and investment on the ground in Highland.”

28 Oct 2021