THE traffic network of Inverness city centre is set for a major revamp – which includes proposed pedestrianisation of current routes and a public square.
Inverness councillors today approved a massive consultation process in a bid to develop a new integrated strategy for the transport.
The issue of traffic congestion in the city centre has long been a headache for the local authority.
With major developments taking place and currently in the planning throughout the city, including the construction of a university campus at Beechwood and student accommodation in the centre, it is likely to worsen unless new measures are implemented.
The Inverness City Committee approved the launch of the consultation, which will include speaking to members of the Business Improvement District (BID) organisation and Chamber of Commerce, before going out for public comment.
They approved officials to go ahead “to identify land use and integrated transport priorities for improving the quality of the environment in Inverness City Centre and delivering a long term sustainable transport network”
The measures are aimed “to maximise Inverness’s role as a modern and carbon-clever city”.
Academy Street revamp
Draft proposals from officials include a total revamp of Academy Street, a major route which cuts through the centre of the Old Town.
Having pedestrians, traffic and cyclists sharing the same space on the street is one idea which is being put up for discussion.
Other proposals in the development brief include moving the bus station from its current site at Farraline Park to the public car park beside the TK Maxx store, making it closer to the railway station.
The former bus station could then be transformed into an attractive public square.
A park-and-ride service being introduced on the outskirts of the city and improvements to the cycle and pedestrian networks are also proposed.
Councillors suggested officials also look at the transport networks of York and Cambridge for inspiration on how pedestrians and traffic can be managed.
One suggestion was the introduction of an electric train to do a circular route of the city centre for passengers to jump on and off at various stops.
Inverness Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stewart Nicol said a park-and-ride was an option to be seriously considered.
He added: “We would look forward to being engaged by the council on this.
“The city has got its challenges but we’ve got enough strategic thinkers and good ideas to make sure this is a really good opportunity to address all the city’s needs.
“It is not just about Inverness, it’s about the broader context of the city and the wider region economically.”
BID chairman Craig Duncan said: “Having an overall plan is a great idea. We’re pleased to be in at the ground level on this.
“BID should be involved in something as vital as this as the city is going to grow.”