Moving the entire castle into the ownership of the council was made possible by the move of the Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service to the new Inverness Justice Centre earlier this year.
The planned transformation is supported by a £15m Scottish government investment through the city region deal. The UK government is contributing £1.63m.
The aim is to create a gateway for Highland tourism, contributing to reinvigoration of tourism across the area and providing investment as the recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic begins. The project masterplan has been developed by LDN Architects.
In advance of the enabling works, work has begun on the installation of hoardings around the castle as it becomes a building site. The hoardings are expected to remain in place for the duration of the building period of up to four years.
Councillor Helen Carmichael, provost of Inverness and area, said: “The Inverness Castle project is key for the regeneration of the tourism economy across the Highland region. I am delighted that the acquisition of the South Tower has now been completed, marking the next step in the transformation of this iconic building. With the impact of the pandemic being felt throughout our area, it is more important than ever that we create this ‘must-see’ attraction that will draw visitors to the Highlands in years to come.”
Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing, co-chair of the Inverness Castle Delivery Group, said: “The Scottish government has been a long-time supporter of the development of Inverness Castle through the City Region Deal, engagement with key public bodies and through our direct involvement in the project. We know the castle has the potential to be one of Scotland’s top tourist attractions, benefitting the wider Highlands as well as Inverness itself, and I welcome that work has now reached another key stage on this major development.”
Sheriff Principal Pyle of the Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland & Islands said: “Inverness Castle was specifically built as a Sheriff courthouse and county hall and has served justice and the people of Inverness well for over 180 years. I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has worked in this building, supporting its work and its history over the years. As that chapter closes, I am pleased that the castle will continue to serve Inverness and its community in this new role.”