COUNCILLORS will be asked to back a new £3 million streetscape scheme around the River Ness, amid mounting public criticism of flood protection walls which could be built along the water’s edge.
A major flood alleviation scheme will be constructed by Highland Council downstream of the Ness Bridge with stone walls planned as part of a £20.8 million project.
However, heritage watchdog the Inverness Civic Trust and local business people have hit out at the plans for the upstream section of the Ness and claim the 1.2 metre high walls would wreck the view and destroy the “soul of the city.”
The authority said the scheme, which was lodged as a planning application three years ago but withdrawn because of the number of objections, was currently under consideration but there were no immediate intention to re-submit it.
Concerned businessman Nicol Manson, the owner of the Waterside Hotel, will address a public meeting next month about the issue.
The council said its downstream flood scheme will reduce the chances of major flooding to 1000 residential and business properties from the bridge to the mouth of the Ness.
On Monday, the Inverness city committee will decide whether to approve wide ranging work along Huntly and Bank streets and Douglas Row.
New paving, more seating areas, a viewing point, traffic calming measures, cycle racks and bus coach drop off points are all proposed and the style and finishes of the work will be the same as that of the controversial £6 million streetscape works carried out in the Old Town which caused major disruption over a prolonged period.
The council wants to reduce the amount of traffic using the riverside streets and increase recreational space instead.
A programme of public art displays with an emphasis on the history, heritage and biodiversity of the Ness is also planned.
The local authority has set aside £1 million, hopes to secure £1.2 million from the Scottish Government and attract other sources of funding to make up the shortfall.