£2.9 million housing development takes investment in Fort William to £40 million

Tweeddale redevelopment
Leader of the Lochaber Committee of Highland Council, Cllr. Thomas MacLennan (centre) looks at the new plans for Tweeddale with (left - right) Robertson Project Manager, Malcolm Sinclair, Principal Housing Officer Morag Cameron, Senior Architectural Technician, Iain Robertson and Robertson’s PLant operator, Tony Pinder

The Highland Council has begun work on the £2.9 million development of Tweeddale in the Town Centre. The Council has taken possession of this key site, which has lain empty for a long period, to provide 22 housing flats for council rent. The housing development is due for completion in January 2017.

This latest project takes the total spend to some £40 million invested in Fort William over the past five years. In addition to Council investment, the Council has enabled further investment in the area through work with partners.

A vast amount of work is currently underway and has been completed in the town, to bring old buildings back to life, provide new homes and invest in the future of young people.

Some £40 million has been invested by The Highland Council over the last five years for projects which include:

  • £96,000 to retain and protect the former Achintore School;
  • £13,793,901 (to date) for refurbishments at Lochaber High School;
  • £6,122,270 to the new Fort William Gaelic School, Bun-Sgoil Ghàidhlig Loch Abar, which opened to pupils in August 2015;
  • £7,584,379 for the building of Lundavra School which opened to pupils in October last year;
  • £168,000 for the Underpass and West End Regeneration;
  • £2,636,253 of improvement works to Invernevis Care Home;
  • £534,186 for the regeneration of Cameron Square which included the creation of a new public events space;
  • £469,964 of improvement works to Lochaber Leisure Centre;
  • £4,322,534 to date for the development of the Caol Joint Campus;
  • £974,307 towards the Angus Centre housing;

These projects not only have huge potential in promoting new business opportunities but also play an important part in improving the local environment for both locals and visitors to Lochaber.

2016 will see further significant investment in the town including work to create the new Council offices and civic hub at the former Fort William Secondary School. Listed Building consent for the new office has just been granted by Historic Environment Scotland marking another important milestone in the project.

Another priority of the Council has been increasing the amount of accommodation in and around the town, and in partnership with Lochaber Housing Association, plans are well underway to provide new homes. 

Housing projects over the next two years include -

  • £2.9m development of Tweeddale in the Town Centre, to provide 22 housing flats for council rent by January 2017;
  • A £1.8m redevelopment of the former Belhaven Ward to provide 13 housing units, 5 of which will be wheelchair accessible bungalows for Council rent and 8 one and two bed flats for rent by Lochaber Housing Association.  Due for completion November 2016
  • The creation of 21 new build flats for Lochaber Housing Association atUpper Achintore in a £2.5m project with work due to start on site next month; 
  • £1.2m to build 10 new houses for rent by Lochaber Housing Association at Lochyside. Work due to be completed in May 2016. 
  • The demolition of the existing buildings at the former “Whisky” Shop on the High Street site to provide 10 flats for Council rent.  The work, which is yet to be tendered for, is due to start in August 2016.

These new housing developments come hot on the heels of last year’s £2.1m project at the former Inverlochy Distillery site which was completed in September and saw council tenants move into 21 new flats and on the completion over the last 4 years of 3 Council units at Inverlochy, with an allocated investment of £0.2 million and 12 houses at Caol with an investment of £1.62 million.

In addition to these investments, the Highland Council also invested a further £2 million in the purchase of the Blar Mor site to make provision for a new hospital for NHS Highland and potentially a new science academy for the West Highland college. This project will eventually enable the building of affordable housing and business opportunities on the current site of the Belford Hospital.

As Strategic Authority we have also directed and enabled finance of £7.35m to be secured for housing association projects in Fort William over the past 5 years.

A planning charrette was held in Fort William in May 2014 at the local community and the Town Team members identified a number of short and long term aspirations. Development of the Tweeddale site was one of a number of suggestions which have since been taken forward with investment by the Council, as well as £0.5 million in improvements to Cameron Square.

Leader of the Lochaber Committee, Councillor Thomas MacLennan said: “These are tough financial times for local government, but when you see the list of projects, it highlights just how much is being invested in our area.

“This latest housing development beginning today at the start of 2016, illustrates the commitment to investing in Lochaber.

“This important investment comes at what is a most difficult time for the region with a fragile job market and economic uncertainty for many. The Council has a crucial role in helping us steer a course through these difficult times.

"We also recognise that the town pier needs investment and we need to create opportunities to attract more marine tourism which will help drive Fort William forward.

“I look forward to more work taking place to create new business opportunities, boost the local economy and work with our communities to improve the quality of people’s lives in Lochaber.

 “This year we will also see more services and budgets devolved to the Lochaber Committee, so despite the economic challenges, my fellow councillors and I will continue to work hard and people can be assured that we will continue to get our fair share of future investment.”

The Council has recently introduced an on-line housing application form. Applicants can now chose to apply on-line or complete a paper form.  Online forms are available on the Highland Council website.

4 Feb 2016
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