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Following the full meeting of The Highland Council yesterday (Thursday 14 September 2023) when a Notice of Amendment for the proposed design of Academy Street was discussed, the Council has decided to proceed.
The decision means that project officers from The Highland Council will now finalise the proposed design, making any necessary minor amendments as required, and consulting on a Traffic Regulation Order, which will be subject to statutory consultation. The Council will also continue to discuss the project with stakeholders and prepare appropriate equalities and economic impact assessments.
The approved design for Academy Street will see footpaths widened to the maximum possible, allowing for the introduction of trees and planting, bicycle parking, benches, and café furniture. Pedestrian crossing facilities will be increased along the length of the street. The use of bus lanes will reduce throughflow traffic and achieve reduced traffic volumes allowing for safe on carriageway cycling. The scheme will maintain private vehicle access to businesses.
Comprehensive re-signage of alternative traffic routes and available parking opportunities to access the city centre will also be introduced.
The Academy Street project is funded by Transport Scotland’s Places for Everyone fund.
Posted on 15th September 2023
On Monday 28th August 2023, members of The Highland Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee agreed to ‘Making Academy Street a Place for Everyone’.
The decision means that project officers from The Highland Council will now finalise the proposed design, making any necessary minor amendments as required, and move forward with a Traffic Regulation Order, which will be subject to statutory consultation. The Council will also continue to discuss the project with stakeholders and prepare appropriate equalities and economic impact assessments as requested by businesses during the engagement process on this design.
Speaking about the decision, Leader of Inverness and Area, Cllr Ian Brown said: “I welcome today’s decision which follows months of debate and discussions with all relevant stakeholders, especially businesses, who were understandably concerned about any potential negative impact to them.
“I do believe that the proposed design strikes a careful balance based on all the opinions that have been expressed and that it will deliver sustainable transport, city centre regeneration, and will support the city centre economy. It will significantly improve opportunities for walking, wheeling and on-carriageway cycling, whilst ensuring that businesses can continue to operate as they do presently. An economic impact assessment will now be undertaken as the project progresses, building on the work developed to date.”
Depute Leader of Inverness and Area, Cllr Chris Ballance said: “Everyone agrees Academy Street needs revitalising. Plans have been considered, discussed and consulted on for years, and it’s time to act. This will turn Academy Street from a road to drive through into a place to go to. I’m delighted there has been so much support for the project from the public. We can now move forward to reinvigorate Inverness’ centre by making it a place for people.”
The approved design for Academy Street will see footpaths widened to the maximum possible; pedestrian crossing facilities increased along the length of street; and motorised vehicle access restricted to deliveries, public transport and blue-badge holders to minimise the through traffic allowed to pass through the city centre. Comprehensive re-signage of alternative traffic routes and available parking opportunities to access the city centre will be introduced as will enhanced restrictions on surrounding residential areas whilst encouraging motorists to make better route choices on arterial and circulatory routes.
Posted on 29th August 2023
This morning, The Highland Council hosted a meeting at Inverness Town House to present further information on the proposed design for Academy Street.
Chaired by City Leader Councillor Ian Brown, stakeholders representing various groups in Inverness including businesses, tourism, transport, emergency services, active travel and protected characteristics groups were given further detail on the proposed design for Academy Street which could be submitted to Sustrans for funding from the Scottish Government’s Places for Everyone programme later this year.
Attendees were shown detailed designs of the proposal as well as a film which explained how this project is the latest initiative designed to regenerate and reinvigorate Inverness city centre and increase its appeal for residents, visitors and businesses and make Inverness a prime destination.
Other projects, some completed such as the West Link and swing bridge, Hydro Ness and the Victorian Market, as well as projects underway including Inverness Castle, and projects due to start as part of the Inverness Zero Carbon Cultural Regeneration programme (Bught Park, Northern Meeting Park and Inverness Castle Energy Centre) also formed part of the presentation around the vision for the future of the city.
Key features of the proposed design for Academy Street include:
“I am grateful to everybody who attended and took the time to come and find out more and I hope that it provided clarity and, in some cases, allayed concerns regarding the proposal. We want to make Academy Street a place for everyone. As the gateway to the Highland capital, Academy Street plays a significant role in welcoming visitors from near and far and we are confident that the proposed design will enhance the city centre and make Inverness a prime destination.”
The event also included a reference to the ‘Inverness Strategy’ and The Highland Council plans to host a public exhibition later this year which will showcase recent and forthcoming development and investment across Inverness as part of the Inverness Strategy.
Malcolm Macleod, Depute Chief Executive and Executive Chief Officer for Infrastructure and Environment and The Highland Council, explained: “Since 2018, over £165 million has been invested in Inverness from both the public and private sector to improve the city for everyone as a hub for the Highlands and Islands. Key projects include the completion of the West Link and new swing bridge as well as the refurbished Victorian Market. Today we started to talk about the ‘Inverness Strategy’ which is all about celebrating what is being delivered by businesses, communities and the public sector across the city.
“The proposal for Academy Street is a key project in the Inverness Strategy and is aligned to our desired outcomes of the draft Inverness City Centre Masterplan, namely that Inverness will be a prime destination; a living city; a green and healthy city; a zero-carbon city; an accessible and connected city; and a digital city.”
The draft Inverness City Centre Masterplan sits alongside the Local Development Plan and will be subject to consultation.
The Highland Council is encouraging people to submit feedback on the proposed design for Academy Street either on this website or by sending an email to email@example.com.
All feedback submitted about the proposed design for Academy Street will be considered by the City of Inverness Area Committee when it meets on 28th August and a decision will be taken on whether or not to proceed the proposal and apply to Sustrans for funding from the Scottish Government’s Places for Everyone programme later this year.
Posted on 20th July 2023
The Highland Council will run a series of drop-in sessions next week to share the design for the regeneration of Academy Street in Inverness.
The purpose of these information sessions is to share more detail about the latest design. Subject to a positive response, it is intended to undertake a formal consultation later this year.
The Highland Council has secured funding for the design of Academy Street through ‘Places for Everyone’ - a scheme funded by the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland and administered by Sustrans. The aim is to make Academy Street a more attractive and healthier place for people walking, wheeling and cycling and this will be a significant milestone in the regeneration of Inverness city centre.
The design proposes significantly widened footpaths for walking and wheeling, improved pedestrian crossing facilities, and a range of opportunities for enhancing the public realm with street furniture and trees. This expands on the previous designs with a detailed traffic management system that aims to reduce traffic volumes on Academy Street, whilst maintaining essential business access. This will be achieved by introducing sections of bus lane on Academy Street between the junctions of Union Street and Queensgate which, combined with the rest of the scheme, will result in slower traffic speeds and reduced traffic volumes that make the carriageway safe for cycling.
Speaking about the events, Inverness City Leader, Councillor Ian Brown said: “I really would encourage everybody to either take the time to come to the events which are running over three days next week or to view the design for Academy Street online.
“The vision for Academy Street respects the needs of everybody using it, from businesses to local residents to tourists visiting the city. The changes to Academy
Street will improve the overall experience of the street for everyone and transform this important place in the core of the city centre to become more welcoming, attractive and healthier.”
Chair of the Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Ken Gowans added: “I very much value engagement and this is a great chance to get involved so I encourage participation from every section of the public and local business community.”
Designs will be on display for three days at the Spectrum Centre, 1B Margaret Street, Inverness from 14 March to 16 March.
The public is welcome to attend at the following times:
Tuesday 14 March 1pm to 4pm; Wednesday 15 March 1pm to 7pm; and Thursday 16 March 1pm to 7pm.
Representatives from The Highland Council will be present to answer any questions and detailed designs and visualisations for Academy Street will be displayed.
Any further feedback on the plans presented at these events should be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 31st March 2023.
Posted on 9th March 2023
The Highland Council is developing a design to regenerate Academy Street, an important place in the heart of Inverness. The City of Inverness Area Committee agreed on 24th November 2022 to progress design of the street to the next, more detailed stage, based on the principle of reducing the current volumes of through-traffic. This approach promotes an ambitious vision for the city centre, and is direct action that will help address poor air quality in the immediate area and to the Climate and Ecological Emergency, it will also provide the city the best opportunity to attract funding for transformational change. Officers are developing designs and will undertake further engagement and statutory consultation early in 2023.
Click here to read the full update.
Posted on 13th December 2022
Have your say on an alternative cycle route as part of Academy Street proposals at a drop-in event this Friday, 7th October 2022, from 8:30am until 4pm at the Eastgate Shopping Centre.
Two proposed cycle routes have been identified. The first route would utilise the Eastgate Underpass to connect to the existing cycle route on the High Street before ultimately connecting to Bridge Street. The second route would access Falcon Square and Inglis Street.
In both scenarios, the plan would be to reconfigure Bridge Street to accommodate a cycle connection by reducing the width of the carriageway. Both the High Street and Bridge Street would require some physical changes to separate the movement of people walking and wheeling from people cycling.
Information boards will be on display and representatives will be in attendance on the ground floor near the Falcon Square entrance, opposite TUI.
Posted on 5th October 2022
by Eilidh Marshall
Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate in the recent events held regarding the proposed design of Academy Street and a cycle route through the city centre.
For those who were unable to attend, a recording of the online session held on September 1st can be accessed via this link.
One item that was discussed was the recent traffic survey conducted on Academy Street which shows the volume of through traffic on Academy Street. This can be viewed in the attachment here.
Posted on 5th September 2022
by Eilidh Marshall
The Highland Council would like to hear your views about the proposed design for Academy Street. Everyone is welcome to attend the following Zoom session.
When: Thursday 1st September 2022, 7pm
Zoom link: https://bit.ly/3p78Yxl
Zoom meeting ID: 864 5745 9881
If you are unable to attend but would like to ask a question, please send it to: email@example.com
A recording of the meeting will be available on this website after the event.
Posted on 24th August 2022
by Eilidh Marshall
*Update: This event is now full*
The Highland Council would like to hear your views about an alternative cycle route, as part of the proposed design for Academy Street.
When: Wednesday 31st August 2022, 6pm
Where: Velocity Café & Bicycle Workshop, 1 Crown Avenue, Inverness, IV2 3NF
Please RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted on 18th August 2022
by Helen Ross
The Highland Council is seeking views from the public on proposed designs for Academy Street over the course of the next few months.
Today, visuals have been published on this website to showcase the vision for Academy Street and to gather feedback. The visuals can be viewed here .
Over the next few weeks, businesses, specific interest groups including those working with disabled people and the general public will be invited to attend events to find out more about the plans for Academy Street and, importantly, to provide their input to the proposed designs. Thereafter, the designs will be available to view at key areas in the city centre including the bus station, train station, Eastgate Shopping Centre and Victorian Market.
The Highland Council has secured funding through ‘Places for Everyone’ for the design of Academy Street, with the aim of making it a more attractive and healthier place for people. ‘Places for Everyone’ is a scheme funded by the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland and is administered by Sustrans. The funding is contingent on identifying a viable alternative cycle path to Academy Street which enables cyclists to safely cross the city.
Speaking about the future of Academy Street, Councillor Ken Gowans, Chair of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, said: “Over the years, Academy Street has been the focus of much debate. It is the gateway to the city, and we have the opportunity to improve the quality of the space, making it a more attractive and healthier place for everyone that uses it.
“People and public transport are very much at the heart of the proposed design, so I hope people take up this opportunity to engage with this important initiative and share their opinions.”
The central focus of the design for Academy Street is to widen the pavement and increase space for pedestrians, something that was trialled during the COVID-19 pandemic when temporary measures were introduced to Academy Street as part of the ‘Spaces for People’ project. Funded by the Scottish Government, this was a Highland-wide initiative that not only provided physical distancing but also improved the opportunity to support people to travel by healthier, low carbon transport such as walking, wheeling and cycling.
In 2021, Inverness Councillors considered the progress made in implementing the Spaces for People project in Inverness and how its interventions had transformed the city centre. They voted to retain the Spaces for People intervention in Academy Street and to replace the temporary Spaces for People measures currently in place with more accessible and safer measures.
Before installing permanent measures, it was agreed that a full accessibility assessment would be undertaken which is now underway.
Emily Gait, Grants Manager for Places for Everyone at Sustrans, said: “We are committed to work with The Highland Council to make Inverness city centre more accessible for people walking, wheeling and cycling. We would encourage people to take the time and have their say on the proposal for Academy Street and Inverness city centre.”
Members of the public will be invited to provide their feedback via an online event later this month. People can also provide feedback on this website and businesses are invited to take a survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7ZHK5DV .
All views with be collated and reviewed before the revised design for Academy Street is shared in the autumn.
Posted on 13th July 2022