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Highland Council aims to secure £500,000 to redevelop Whin Park at crunch meeting

By Scott Maclennan

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Whin Park.
Whin Park.

The hugely popular Whin Park that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year could be in for a major refurbishment – if Highland Council can find the money – to make it more accessible, inclusive and carbon neutral.

Highland Council’s “vision” for the park involves providing a “high-quality play offering for children and young people in Inverness and beyond that serves the needs of all young people, regardless of ability and age.”

That means it will have a varied range of sustainable play equipment supported by core facilities, including toilets and the boating pond while in future a “natural play” offering with space for wheeling will be developed.

The funding for the project is not settled but will likely come from three main sources – Scottish Government Play Area funding (£256,235); Highland Council Community Regeneration Funds (£100,000) and the Inverness Common Good Fund (£150,000).

That totals £506,235 which is less than a quarter of the estimated £2.2 million cost to totally revamp the park but that is out of reach so Inverness councillors will be asked to agree to a new vision and award it Scottish Government Play Park funding.

That play park funding may be controversial because each Inverness ward will be asked to give £51,247 to the redevelopment contributing to a total of £256,235 to the budget while still having £49,326 in each ward for local play areas.

Lynn MacGillivray, play strategist and coordinator said: “This reflects the importance of Whin Park in Inverness as a destination location, as identified and evidenced during the public engagement phase of the project.”

Phase One of the project is underway as £20,000 from Nature Restoration Fund for work on the boating pond has been secured and work completed while a contractor is expected to complete the £120,000 refurbishment of the toilets by next April.

After a consultation, it was determined the “top priority” of Phase Two would be the replacement of play equipment to “ensure the site is the main destination park for Inverness city, wider Highland region users, and tourists.”

This work it is hoped can be “could be delivered within the financial package” of £500,000 but if “any element of this funding package not be achievable, the scope of equipment will require to be reduced or programme delayed.”

The Inverness city committee will meet Monday.

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