Highlands & Islands

Inverness Beechwood campus masterplan approved

Artist's impression of Beechwood. Pic: HIE
Image caption An artist's impression of the proposed Beechwood campus

Councillors have approved the masterplan and design guidelines for Inverness's new campus.

It has been proposed to develop Beechwood as a base for the University of the Highlands and Islands and a research and business centre.

Highland Council granted planning permission in principle in May.

In August, councillors deferred making a decision on the masterplan following concerns about how traffic would access the site.

Councillors were told the plan for traffic lights to control traffic at a junction at the main entrance to the campus had drawn 227 objections.

Westhill Community Council has been campaigning for a roundabout, arguing that it would better handle traffic.

The masterplan and design guidelines were crucial to planning permission being granted in full.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is leading the campus project.

Work on the site is scheduled to start next year with the first buildings ready to open in 2015.

HIE has said that once it was completed the campus could potentially support up to 6,000 jobs over the next 30 years and generate more than £38m a year for the economy.

'Right way'

Inverness provost Jimmy Gray said the campus was a major development that would be significant locally and to Scotland.

Ness-side councillor David Henderson said the local authority had received lots of advice on the traffic management. He said traffic lights were "the right way forward".

Inverness South councillor Jim Crawford raised concerns that a pedestrian crossing at the main access to the campus could disrupted traffic flow.

Council officers said this had been considered in the modelling for the access.

However, Culloden and Ardersier councillor Roddy Balfour said the modelling might not properly reflect traffic flow and a "pinch point" could be created.

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