A NEW visitor attraction is to be built to replace the The Falls of Shin visitor centre which burnt to the ground in May last year,
But the type or scale of the new development is as yet unknown.
Landowner Balnagown Estates has joined forces with the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust to push forward the initiative.
The estate, owned by former Harrods proprietor Mohamed Al Fayed, is underwriting the project.
A working party comprising representatives of community groups and interested parties has been meeting to consider the future of the site. Manager Paul Pomfret said: “We’re committed to working with the community to re-establish a visitor attraction local families can enjoy and which tourists will want to visit. The working group has been impressed with the commitment and enthusiasm of the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust and with the high quality of work undertaken to assess local need, viability and an initial vision for the site.”
Development Trust manager Helen Houston said it was too early yet to say what would be put in place of the old centre. But she added: “Our plans for the Falls of Shin will ensure it remains an exceptional destination for tourists.” She said plans would be presented to the public in due course.
The loss of the centre, which attracted over 250,000 visitors each year, was regarded as an economic disaster for the area, particularly on the back of the closure of nearby Carbisdale Castle youth hostel.
The centre housed a restaurant and shop and was sited next to a play park, woodland walks and the salmon falls.Twelve full and six part-time staff were employed there.
Initial findings by fire and police investigators were that the fierce blaze, which quickly ripped through the wooden structure, was caused by an electrical fault.