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Inverness city vision


Inverness City Vision was a series of exciting one-day Future City Games played on the 20, 21 and 22 January 2010. The games were organised by the Highland Council, in consultation with Architecture + Design Scotland, Willie Miller Urban Design and Nick Wright Planning.

The events took place in a different location each day.

Day 1 was played by 25 young people from local schools and youth groups at the Ironworks, a custom built live music and event venue in the heart of Inverness.

Day two was played by over 20 representatives from local communities, businesses and the voluntary and public sectors. The game took place at the Merkinch Community Centre in an area undergoing regeneration.

Day three was played by over 25 representatives from local communities, businesses and the voluntary and public sectors. The game took place at the Spectrum Centre in the centre of the city.

Inverness gained city status in 2000 and is known as “the City in the Highlands”, acting as a centre to the rest of the Scottish Highlands. The Highland Council area covers 30,659 km² and is the largest local government areas in the UK. The population of Inverness grew by 4,574 between 2001 and 2009 (from 53,157 to 57,731), and is expected to grow in the next 10 years by up to 7,000, an increase of 12%. The city requires effective planning to reduce the pressure this growth might put on the infrastructure and services.


Thinking about the Inverness of the future

The Highland Council is preparing a new City Vision (a twenty-year vision) for Inverness to replace the one that was prepared in 2003, and marks ten years since Inverness gained city status. The envisioning exercise is part of the process of preparing the new generation of planning documents for the area.

The games were organised to ensure that representatives from the public, voluntary, private and community sectors were given the opportunity to have their say in the development of a shared vision for the future of the city. The winning ideas from the three days will be presented to The Highland Council in April, who will then seek to make those ideas a reality.

Winning idea


Inverness Eco-Festival
The Eco-festival brings together the four Future City Game challenges (environmental, economic, social and cultural). The Festival would be a month of special events throughout the city connected by the common theme of the environment.

·    Environmental: the environment will become a more important issue over the next 20 years; we believe that Inverness is uniquely placed to hold a festival with an ecological theme. As well as the stunning natural environment of the Highlands and the potential for renewable technology in the area, other projects could be linked to the festival, such as eco housing development.
·    Cultural: the festival could make us of existing venues such as Eden Court, the Ironworks, various pubs, and even Falcon Square and the High Street for outdoor performances with an ecological theme
·    Social: the social elements are clear, and events could be staged for all ages and tastes. One proposal was to offer free tickets to local residents
·    Economic: the festival would provide an excellent opportunity to boost tourism in the area and raise the profile of Inverness and the Highlands

The project could be linked to the Edinburgh Festival to provide a pre- or post-festival destination for visitors who want to see more of Scotland, or who find the Edinburgh experience overwhelming. With an ecological theme we would also be keen to encourage the use of public transport by perhaps making it free during the event.


Riverside in Inverness
At present, the city centre of Inverness is very constrained. It would be logical to extend it to the north, and to make the River Ness a focal point in the city by developing recreational opportunities and bringing new life to the waterfront.

The main features of the idea include:
·    linking parts of the city
·    ferry connection across the Firth
·    turning Eden Court into a Cultural Centre of Inverness
·    linking green areas with walking and cycling routes
·    Firth Port and Ness Island to be protected
·    bringing new commercial opportunities
·    providing leisure and cultural services/facilities



Piazza: the destination starts here…
Think of your favourite city in the world. Can you picture it? What are we missing? What does it have that other cities don’t, and what do we remember about those cities? It is usually a particular space or a building. (the Eiffel Tower, Alexanderplatz)

What’s missing in Inverness? Creating a central Piazza in Inverness could achieve this special identity.

The benefits:
·    creates a city to be proud of
·    added tourism value
·    reinvigorates the centre and Inverness
·    creates a very flexible space
·    holds tourists in the city centre longer, who then spend more
·    helps to create a café culture
·    reduces traffic in the city (park & ride)
·    creates a focal point where people gather, a place where people want to stay and spend time

Winning ideas from the other teams


The idea is to develop Inverness as a centre of ‘GreenNess’ focused on the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) as a centre for environmental and ecological conservation helping to set standards for Scotland and boosting the economy of Inverness. UHI develops specialist courses and research in ‘green’ subjects.

Spider Network
A giant cycle network to connect all areas of Inverness. There would be one main spider connecting the town centre to various areas and then sub-spiders to connect suburbs to the main spider. The project would encourage a healthier lifestyle and help reduce congestion and carbon emissions, save users money on petrol and car maintenance, and benefit future generations.

Operation ALBA
This project promotes a range of actions to maintain and celebrate our rich heritage - our national language, culture and identity - whilst being respectful to other cultures. Actions include: reintroducing Gaelic as a second language in schools, as well as Scottish history and music, celebrating a tartan day, opening a heritage centre and introducing cultural festivals.

Green Space
Green Space is a public outdoor super venue in the town centre. It is literally an outdoor green space, with temporary and permanent structures offering a range of sports and leisure activities. Green Space addresses the lack of opportunities (particularly for young people) for entertainment and leisure. Power for the facilities is free, as it is generated by renewable energy sources which have low running costs.

Networked University

A university which promotes and facilitates access to a world-class education; a university connecting learners through innovative communications technology and distance learning techniques; a university which focuses on excellence in communication and cultural awareness; a university which gives students an opportunity to gain exemplary qualifications which are recognised and respected all around the world.


Life Inverness + Just add water

The team’s vision is to revive the built and environmental heritage of the city of Inverness. The idea was presented as a story of modern living, alongside and in harmony with our local wildlife.
·    the journey starts with the reincarnation of the old Whin Park Hydro Scheme using modern technology to generate the power.
·    HydroWild is a state-of-the-art power generation scheme with a difference: one’s wildlife experience starts here.
·    water power would be used to bring life and light to the key built assets of Inverness situated in the Spirit and Stage district and the grass roots, grit and grandeur district.
·    disused buildings along the river will be brought back to life as Highland and Island embassies.
·    bringing power and light to this key area of the city will promote the feel-good factor, encouraging further investment in the city centre and promoting a return to city centre living.

Heart of Inverness
Elements of the idea:
·    making the heart of Inverness bigger in proportion to the size of the city
·    flip the heart of city across the River
·    green blanket area (like a living bandage) over the railway. Where the green blanket reaches the Firth, create beaches
·    new monorail (to the football ground, airport, university, etc)
·    the Castle will become central, clearing
·    maritime museum
·    art gallery to encourage cultural development

Inverness Castle
·    to retain and reclaim the Castle for residents and visitors.
·    the Council currently occupies Town House, but assumption that they will move out.
·    approaching the two buildings at present has no ‘dramatic’ effect - thus how they are approached is important.
·    new building in glass connected to new historic centre with roof garden or outdoor exhibition space.
·    small square/piazza.

Vision statement: visitors can experience innovative and provocative new art, relax, have fun, learn and discover fresh, new ideas. It should be an active, friendly space, with a strong educational focus. Attract good contemporary international art and design exhibitions.



Local environmental industry development
The idea of the team was to create a focus on the environmental sciences and industries equivalent to the current focus on the health and life sciences. This should focus on the creation and development of small companies that punch well above their weight in an international context (eg Wavegen) rather than creating further dependence on large companies which are more vulnerable to the vagaries of international capital.

Such a focus would play to the strengths of existing institutions in Inverness, e.g. Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, as well as in the rest of the Highlands (e.g. Dounreay nuclear waste management), and could foster the development of new areas of such expertise, such as decommissioning fish and wind farms.

It would be crucial that this becomes a key theme for UHI, helping to give UHI a distinctive identity in a crowded market. This is a very entrepreneurial field - it should foster business start-ups and new social enterprises.

Inverness: the Gateway City
Every city has its own identity. How do people see Inverness? What word or image expresses the city’s identity? What is our brand? What would the strap line be? Inverness: City of….? The team proposed that Inverness is a gateway city: ‘Gateway City to a new and exciting world’.

To become a gateway we need to:
. improve rail links
. increase international flights
. improve other means of communication such as broadband.

 “I have a dream” to see the Highlands and Islands become a global centre for environmental excellence. To develop the area as a centre for renewable energy; for the production of renewable energy, and for advances in renewable energy technologies.  The benefits would be a reduction in the carbon footprint, cleaner air, water and land; education, job creation, new skills and re-skilling; healthier, more holistic communities.

The idea would include:
. small-scale hydro schemes
. using natural resources for sustainable development
. generation of investment in renewables
. tidal energy – flood defense harnesses tidal energy
. solar power
. allotments
. brownfield site development (new development should be carbon neutral)

The principal elements of this idea are to:
. create a media hub in the city
. a cohesive media industry - TV, film, music etc.
. create links to the University as demand increases and requires its support
. promote the Highlands identity e.g. as a centre for music etc.
. inspire the next generation
. connect rural (providing valuable information for the farming community and allowing that community to share information and ideas).