Exhibition of draft proposals for Chanonry Point environmental improvements
The Highland Council is planning an exhibition of draft
proposals for the environmental improvement of the Chanonry Point car park.
Chanonry Point is located on the Black Isle between the villages of Fortrose and Rosemarkie, on a spit of land extending into the Moray Firth. It has always been a popular destination for local visitors, but in recent years its resident dolphins have contributed to making it one of the ten most visited attractions in the Highlands.
The car park is owned by The Highland Council, but its growing popularity as a location for dolphin watching has meant that it is no longer keeping up with the demands of increased visitors and traffic. As such, it is often very congested during the summer months, particularly at weekends and holidays, and the site has generally become rather tired and scruffy with use. A feasibility study was carried out in 2010, which was funded by The Highland Council, the Scottish Government and the European Community Highland LEADER 2007-2013 Programme and the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Common Good Fund, and included much local consultation. This resulted in several early action improvements to the site, including some additional parking, the removal of unsightly overhead cables and the installation of an all abilities footpath to the viewing point.
The report also resulted in the formation of the Chanonry Point Advisory Group, which is made up of representatives from the community, the Highland Council including the Black Isle Councillors and other interested parties such as the Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club, the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society, Moray Firth Partnership and the Community Council. The Advisory Group come together twice a year pre and post the main season with a remit to review progress and to share views, promote understanding and inform progress. The Group is principally to improve communication.
Given the importance of the site in terms of visitor experience, The Highland Council recognises the need for further improvements to the site. Money has therefore been allocated to Chanonry Point within The Highland Council’s Development and Infrastructure Capital Programme, and it is intended for environmental and visitor management improvements to be carried out within the car park and viewing point areas of the site. The amount secured at present is £120K, but will be subject to the identification of a suitable scope of works, which will require to be approved by the Planning, Development & Infrastructure Committee. If necessary, additional funding may be sought.
There is great opportunity to improve visitor experience through upgrading the site’s general appearance, infrastructure and to create a visitor reception point. However, it should be recognised that the options for improvement are constrained by the size of the site and the adjacent land ownership. In light of this, consultant Landscape Architects, Horner Maclennan, have been appointed to prepare two alternative sketch proposals for the upgrade of the site and associated visitor reception facilities.
The sketch proposals will be displayed to the public in an exhibition to be held in Fortrose at the Black Isle Leisure Centre during the second week in June (Monday 9th June- Monday 16th June). An informal ‘drop-in’ consultation session is to be held on Thursday 12th June between 11am-5pm and 6pm-8pm, in which the community and stakeholders will be invited to comment and discuss the proposals with the consultant and relevant Highland Council Officers. There will also be questionnaire sheets present during the exhibition to allow people to leave their comments and suggestions.
The consultant will then take on board these comments and provide a final sketch proposal and cost estimates, which will be reported to the Planning Development and Infrastructure Committee, with recommendations dependent on whether further funding will be required.
The local Black Isle Members said: “It is hoped that the draft proposals will provide some solutions to improve the overall visitor experience and enhance the appearance of the special site. We would also hope that the proposals are sympathetic to the existing, informal nature of the site.
“We are hoping for a good turnout at the drop-in session, where the public will be able to discuss and comment on the draft options.”
The Chair of the Fortrose & Rosemarkie Community Council, Elizabeth Brown added: “The Fortrose & Rosemarkie Community Council are delighted that there will be an exciting new layout at Chanonry Point and would urge people to come and view the proposals.”