FW2040 programme marks five years   

FW town centre masterplan

FW2040 - the unifying vision and projects developed with the community to make Fort William and Lochaber a great place to live, work and visit, is 5 years old. To mark this important milestone outlined below is the FW2040 successes so far, a welcome to the new Project Manager, information on our recently opened public exhibition, and the vision for the future.

Economy and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans said: “I’d like to welcome Alison Martin to the role of FW2040 – Project Manager from her predecessor Martin Culbertson. The FW2040 project manager position allows critical integration between stakeholders and is the key link to all the many component projects. Alison, will assist organisations and community groups to collaborate, encouraging partnership and the sharing of resources, as well as helping to support and develop individual projects. Communication with the community remains a key focus to ensure that residents, businesses, and local organisations are kept updated and proactively engaged with the process.”

FW2040 provides an overall vision and programme of projects for Fort William and Lochaber focusing on four key themes “A Great Place to Live”, “A Connected Place”, “A Place Facing Water”, and “A Net Zero Town”. In 2018/19, a range of potential projects and proposed developments being led by local individuals, businesses and organisations were presented at several community consultation events. The community was asked to formulate their priorities for the future development of the town and surrounding area, both in response to these projects and proposals but also, with an open invitation to bring their own suggestions and ideas. The result of this process was a list of 31 projects and with a further 4 being added since, there is now a total of 35 FW2040 projects to date.

Since 2018, 13 of those projects have been completed. Over 5 years, multiple organisations working independently and together have delivered against the FW2040 vision with projects such as the Thomas Telford Corpach Marina, initial phases of new housing at Blar Mor and in Upper Achintore, the Highland Cinema, the Bike Park and the Caol & Lochyside Flood Protection Works successfully completed. These are important achievements and huge credit goes to the individuals and organisations involved. The provision of affordable housing for example, is a particularly pressing community priority and further phases of housing development essential to Fort William being a ‘great place to live’.

The timely delivery of projects is key to the purpose of FW2040, but the vision also aims to balance short and longer term ambitions. This means that although other projects have not yet been completed, they have continued to progress over this time. Traffic congestion and vehicular travel through the town is recognised within the FW2040 vision and whilst considerable progress has been made on active travel with the provision of E-Bikes and new cycling routes, the critical importance of the A82 to all new developments is acknowledged. To this end, close collaboration with Transport Scotland and other transport partners, to find solutions will continue.

Another significant outcome has been the recent delivery of a draft Masterplan specifically focusing on the town centre. Town centre revitalisation is a key FW2040 priority, and a programme of further community engagement work is underway. Town Centre Masterplan information is on display for 4 weeks in a Public Exhibition in the Fort William Library on the High Street. The exhibition is on from Monday 26 February to Monday the 25 March and is open to all. Please come along and gives us your feedback.

Clear and regular communication about the progress and challenges of delivering FW2040 is an important part of the process – this includes news releases, dedicated events like the Masterplan exhibition, and updates on the FW2040 pages of the Council website. Two stakeholder groups also provide a channel for dedicated two-way communication between those representing the community e.g., Community Councils, and the FW2040 Programme Board. FW2040 is an evolving project and over its lifetime, it is envisaged that additional projects will emerge in response to consultation or new funding opportunities.

Lochaber Area Committee Chair, Cllr Kate Willis said: “FW2040 – 5 years on, demonstrates what can be achieved with ambition and collaborative community vision and project delivery. As we are all aware, the economic landscape is very different since FW2040 began and really highlights the significance of dynamic and flexible programming that aligns with the changing demands and needs of the area.”

“I look forward to ongoing community engagement events, including the current public exhibition of the town centre masterplan and encourage as many people as possible in the Lochaber area to attend to ensure that collectively the vision and ideas for improving the area has the input from residents who will benefit from the legacy of FW2040.”

For more information, please visit the FW2040 project.

27 Feb 2024