Vision for Fort William wins Future Town design award

It may be known as the gateway to the UK's tallest mountain, but Fort William has never scaled the heights of urban development.

Ben Nevis rises behind Loch Linnhe, with the town of Fort William on the shore. Picture: TSPL

The Highland town, known as An Gearasdan in Gaelic, has twice been shortlisted for the infamous Carbuncle Award after plans to redevelop its waterfront were abandoned in 2010.

But now a group of local volunteers have a won a national design competition for their vision of how the community can reconnect with the shores of Loch Linnhe.

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The Fort William Town Team were this week named the winners of the 2016 FutureTown Design competition, following a public vote.

Fort William High Street. Picture: Wikicommons

The group envision a number of ways to encourage marine tourism in the area, including the cosntruction of semi-circular balconies over Loch Linnhe, and a new sheltered performance space in the town centre.

“It’s well-known that due to historic misfortune, Fort William has turned its back on its waterfront,” said the group in a collective statement.

“We believe that reconnecting the town centre to the water will be the key to the regeneration of An Gearasdan. 

“We look forward to working with our partner groups including Fort William Marina & Shoreline Company and Friends of the Old Fort, together with the Highland Council and other bodies, to put the wheels in motion for realising this ultimate goal. 

An artist's impression on Fort William could reconnect to its waterfront. Picture: Contributed

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who voted for us. To receive recognition for our design at this level is amazing.”

The competition, now in its second year, aims to help communities imagine how derelict spaces can be brought back to life, footfall can be increased, or simply offer ideas for brightening up street scenes.

It was organised by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP), the national agency and ‘go to’ body for towns north of the border.

“The design demonstrates how creative thinking about the future by the local community can highlight ways that towns can flourish to the benefit of all who live in them,” said Phil Prentice of STP.

Fort William High Street. Picture: Wikicommons
An artist's impression on Fort William could reconnect to its waterfront. Picture: Contributed