£315 million city deal for Inverness announced
A city deal worth a total of £315m over 10 years has been confirmed for Inverness.
The Scottish Government is to contribute £135m, the UK Government will commit up to £53m and Highland Council and regional partners will contribute £127m to the deal, which is also expected to generate around £1bn of external investment.
Stewart Nicol, Chief Executive of Inverness Chamber of Commerce, called it a “momentous announcement” for the city.
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The funding is to be targeted towards improving the region’s transport and digital connectivity, the creation of a northern innovation hub for high-growth businesses, digital healthcare, promoting tourism and the delivery of housing and assisted-living schemes.
Key plans include improvement to the A9/96 link road and the Longman interchange, the transformation of Inverness Castle into a tourist attraction, a multi-disciplinary centre for clinical research and teaching on the UHI campus to support the commercialisation of new medical products and technologies and extending digital coverage, including superfast broadband and mobile 4G connectivity, across the region.
New possibilities for the University of the Highlands and Islands according to UHI principal and vice-chancellor Professor Clive Mulholland include discussions with the University of Stirling to transfer their current Highland adult and mental health nursing programmes to UHI, £4m of research investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to increase its health research capacity and scoping a model for a Scottish graduate medical school.
There are also plans to build 6,000 new homes over 20 years, of which 1,800 will be affordable.
Welcoming the city deal, Keith Brown, the cabinet secretary for infrastructure, investment and cities, said: “Cities and their regions are the engines of our economy. Today’s City Deal announcement demonstrates our clear and strong commitment to Inverness and the wider Highland region, which we recognise have a key contribution to make to the future prosperity and economic growth for Scotland.”
Highland Council said it wanted “to position Inverness and the Highlands as a region of digital opportunity”.
Highland Council leader Councillor Margaret Davidson welcomed the announcement. She said: “The city of Inverness and the wider Highlands offers a unique and wonderful environment to live, work, study and visit and is a globally recognised location.
“This deal will make a significant contribution to the long term productivity and economic growth of our area by promoting it as the best digitally connected rural region in Europe.”