THE Highland Council has said good progress is being made on projects funded by the Inverness and Highland city region deal.
The investment is jointly supported by up to £315 million in funding from the Scottish and UK governments, the council itself, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
The local authority said that the core overarching aims of the deal remain to help rebalance the population through attracting and/or retaining an additional 1,500 young people in the 18-29 age group; create 2,200 jobs in construction; help up-skill the labour market to move to a high wage, high skill economy; deliver 6,000 homes over a 20-year period; and deliver private sector investment of £800 million over a 20-year period.
At a recent meeting, council members were advised that the impact of Covid-19 is being felt with some delays and issues arising from previous restrictions but a variety of mitigation measures were able to be put in. Although the current temporary level 4 has not materially affected the construction industry, the council said there are some issues around access to sites, obtaining materials and increased safety measures which may affect timescales but every effort will be made to get projects back on schedule.
As part of the deal, planning permission has recently been granted for the FIT homes development in Nairn and work can commence to prepare for the building of ten specially designed assisted homes to provide accommodation for tenants with various medical needs that allows them to be supported while maintaining their independence.
Planning permission has also been granted for the Life Science Centre and invitations to tender have been issued by the council.
Works to transform Inverness Castle into a flagship tourism attraction are continuing at pace.
The Dingwall Newton Room has hosted its first pupils from Dingwall Academy and planning has started on the Inverness Newton Room at the UHI campus.
Construction work on the final phase of the West link project continues following the installation of the new canal crossing bridge and associated road works. The original planned completed date was December 2020, but due to the pandemic and the the months cessation of construction projects this has been delayed to March 2021.
Chair of the economy and infrastructure committee, councillor Trish Robertson, said, “We are now completing year four of the ten-year City Region Deal and excellent progress is being made across a diverse range of projects as we aim to capitalise on the substantial opportunities and investments.
“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues it is having an impact on the city region deal projects, but all partners are working hard to adapt to current constraints and finding new creative ways to deliver. I am sure that great progress will continue to be made throughout these challenging times and we look forward to receiving more updates as projects move forward.”