Two planning firms have been appointed to draw up a master plan for what is considered to be one of the most important developments for the Highlands and Islands over the next 20 years.
It is hoped that an outline planning application for a new Inverness College campus including research and other new facilities for UHI Millennium Institute, might be submitted by early 2009.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise is leading the project in partnership with Inverness College, UHI and The Highland Council to develop a 200-acre site at Beechwood, just off the A9 south, by the end of this year. The campus is also intended to comprise a new business school; research and innovation incubation facilities, student residences and a regional sports centre of excellence all set within a parkland environment. Edinburgh-based MAKE Architects and Turnberry Consulting have been appointed to work up a masterplan and application for outline planning permission for the development.
The project is dependent on the completion of the proposed Inverness Trunk Link road. This route, for which two sections have already been completed, needs to be joined up so that traffic can circumnavigate the city and provide access to the Beechwood campus.
James Gibbs, HIE’s area manager for the Inner Moray Firth said: “This is a proposal of huge significance for the Highlands, making a major contribution to the North of Scotland’s knowledge economy. We want to provide a facility that is magnetic to students, academia and knowledge-based inward investors.
“Our partners, Inverness College, UHI and The Highland Council share our task in realising this ambitious vision for the region and we are also in discussions with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Agricultural College regarding their interest in having a presence at this site.
“However completion of the Inverness Trunk link road is absolutely essential if this campus vision is to be a success. We want to outline our proposal to Transport Scotland, so that they can include this information when considering how to allocate their expenditure programme.”
And the deputy principal of UHI, James