Highland councillors have approved detailed plans for the first phase of the hugely exciting Inverness Campus project. Described as one of the most important developments proposed for the Highlands and Islands in the next twenty years, the campus is set to integrate leading academic facilities with world-class research opportunities.
Inverness Campus will be developed on 215 acres of land known as Beechwood Farm, on the eastern side of Inverness. The core site of 120 acres sits in a wedge created by the convergence of the A9 to the west, the railway to the east, and the proposed new Inverness Trunk Link Road (TLR) to the south.
The Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has approved up to £25m over five years to develop the first phase of the project, which will provide a base for Inverness College UHI, the Scottish Agricultural College, Centre for Health Science, an 80-bed training hotel and sports facilities. This money will be used for site servicing works, creating access, transport links and essential services.
Ruaraidh MacNeil, Inverness Campus project director for HIE, said: “This is really exciting for the Highlands and Islands. Inverness Campus is a transformational project and we can now look forward to starting work on site very early in the New Year.
“Bringing together a number of educational, business and research partners, Inverness Campus will be a nationally significant centre of excellence.”
Independent research has estimated that the Inverness Campus has the potential to support up to 6,000 jobs over the next 30 years. In addition, the completed campus could attract future investment of over £100 million to the area, whilst generating £38 million for the Highlands and Islands economy every year.
Room for Improvement
After talks with local residents and the Highland Council, HIE has developed a multi-million pound investment programme aimed at reducing queues and upgrading bus, cycle and pedestrian routes to the city centre. The programme forms part of both the planning and Section 75 agreements, which is required as part of the planning consent.
Project director, Ruaraidh MacNeil, said: “Since receiving our planning resolution last May, we have worked closely with the Highland Council and local community councils to address concerns about traffic and access.
“In order to improve traffic flow we will dual the slip road from the A9 and alter the traffic signals and junctions between Culloden Road and Caulfield Road North at the Inshes Veterinary Practice. We will also contribute towards improvements at the Inshes roundabout and the paths and cycle ways that connect it with Inverness city centre.
“The investment will improve pedestrian and cycle access across the area, making the Campus more accessible to the surrounding community and to the rest of the city. A new pedestrian and cycle bridge across the A9 will link with Raigmore Estate, the Centre for Health Science and Raigmore Hospital. And, going the other way, we will improve the existing stone bridge connecting pedestrians and cyclists from the Campus to Inverness Retail and Business Park and beyond.
“Finally, because we expect many Campus users to choose public transport, we will invest in two new bus gates at Millburn Road, and provide a link from Churchill Road through the Raigmore hospital site. This will significantly reduce bus times between the city centre, Campus and the Hospital by avoiding the Raigmore interchange and Old Perth Road.”