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Tue August 09 2022

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Highland Council seeks levelling-up funds

28 Jun A report being presented to Highland Council this week recommends asking the UK Levelling Up Fund to support two projects.

The regeneration of Portree Harbour is one of two Highland projects set to bid for funding
The regeneration of Portree Harbour is one of two Highland projects set to bid for funding

Council members will be asked to agree to two separate bids being submitted for round two of the fund. The projects are North Coast 500 and Portree Harbour.

On 3 March 2021, the chancellor set out details of a £4.8bn UK Levelling Up Fund that will offer successful bids the opportunity to invest in infrastructure including regenerating town centres and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

Highland Council was successful in Round 1 (of 4) for the Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency bid. Round 2 is now open for applicants with a closing date for submission of 6 July 2022.

Members will be asked to agree to the proposed resubmission of a transport bid based on the North Coast 500. The funding into three elements which are costed at £44m:

  • Achnasheen to Kishorn: NC500 tourist route and Kishorn Port Access;
  • Ullapool to Bettyhill: NC500 tourist route & key North Sutherland vehicle access;
  • North Coast 500 Green Tourism Project.

It is also intended, with member agreement, to make a second stand-alone bid under the Heritage & Culture strand of the UK Levelling Up Fund for Portree Harbour and Village regeneration. The council said that the harbour area in Portree is an important cultural and heritage asset for the Isle of Skye and acts as an important gateway to the island.

The key elements of the bid include:

  • harbour upgrade;
  • new access arrangements;
  • new berthing and mooring options;
  • new quayside facilities;
  • relocation of fuel tanks.

Councillor Ken Gowans, who chairs the economy and infrastructure committee, said: “It is promising to read a strong report that clearly identifies two separate bids for the next round of Levelling Up Fund (LUF) and we look forward to Thursday’s Council meeting where we will consider two bids and future plans for round 3 and 4.  Improved transport connectivity across parts of the North Coast 500 area, Green Tourism Project and a transformative upgrade to Portree Harbour could be a real catalyst for economic recovery in two distinctive areas in Highland.”

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