Highlands & Islands

Controversial Inverness market closure given go-ahead

An entrance to Inverness' Victorian Market Image copyright Highland Council
Image caption Highland Council has proposed a £1.5m revamp of the market

A plan to close a historic Inverness shopping market for up to a year to allow for a major revamp has been approved by councillors.

Highland Council will offer compensation and help finding alternative premises to traders renting units in the Victorian Market.

The local authority said the revamp would greatly improve the site.

But some traders said there was "disbelief" they could be forced to close, and fear going out of business.

They have concerns rents for alternative premises will be double what they pay now.

Costing about £1.5m, the proposed revamp includes creating a larger open area in the market where live entertainment and other events could be staged.

The building work could start early next year and would take about 10 months to complete. Tenants could be in redeveloped units early 2021, according to the council.

The local authority said there had been "ongoing engagement" with traders including one-to-one consultations for the last two years.

Image caption Business owner Kasia Pogo described the compensation on offer as "laughable"

Councillors on the City of Inverness area committee approved the business case for the revamp at a meeting on Thursday.

Highland Council's development chief Stuart Black said an improved Victorian Market, along with the redevelopment of nearby Inverness Castle, would increase visits to the city centre.

He said a "small number" of businesses would be affected directly by the market's closure.

Mr Black added: "We have enhanced the compensation package and the bigger prize is a much enhanced footfall in the city centre."

But Kasia Pogo, who runs an Asian food shop in the market, said: "There is huge disbelief that you can do this to the local people and that you can force to close 14 businesses.

"It is going to have a huge impact on the city centre."

She said the compensation on offer was "laughable".

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