Wick lanes project is a 'starting point' for regeneration of town centre
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A new initiative to upgrade Wick's High Street lanes will be a "starting point" for town centre regeneration, according to the chairman of the local community council.
Allan Farquhar was speaking at a drop-in event in Caithness House this week marking the launch of the Wick Lanes Pocket Places project.
It was set up after the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council (RBWCC) and Highland Council secured funding from Sustrans Scotland’s Pocket Places programme.
Views are being sought from the public on ideas to transform the various lanes leading to High Street into "more inviting and appealing places to use", while strengthening "the historic and heritage character of the spaces".
Wednesday's four-hour session was the first in a series of engagement activities in which the project partners are inviting people to share their views and aspirations.
Mr Farquhar had taken a brief walk around with the Sustrans Scotland project team prior to the event and had been "spreading the word" about the project.
"There has been a steady drift of people coming in and out and you can see by the amount of comments that have been made on the Post-it pads that people are contributing to it," he said. "Now is their chance to have their say.
"It's important that we start on the right foot and take due cognisance of what the locals are telling us about this. It's a theme to Wick that there is so much history about the town and our culture.
"The lanes are really just a starting point for how we're going to regenerate the town centre. Folk are actually seeing that we're going to be doing things.
"They're expecting these works to be done by next March, that's the timescale for these lanes, so it's good to see the fruits of our labour coming forth."
A wider town centre town centre redesign will follow.
Mr Farquhar said: "We're expecting that to start happening in 2024/25 and we're in discussion with Highland Council and the design team for that project at the moment as well, just to get our timescales and funding in place."
Robin Burns, project lead, co-design, for Sustrans Scotland, said: “We would like to thank everyone who came to Caithness House to learn more about the Wick Lanes Pocket Places project on Wednesday.
"It was a fantastic opportunity for the Sustrans Scotland team and our project partners the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council and Highland Council to understand the community’s vision for the area.
"Lots of people have had their say and given us feedback about things they like about the lanes, things they want to change about the lanes and what they'd potentially like to see in the lanes.
“Anyone who was unable to make it can have their say by completing a survey online until September 1. The project team will collate all community feedback before presenting findings at a future date.”
Mr Burns added: "Local people have definitely highlighted how much of a thoroughfare they are and how essential they are. You might not necessarily think about them on a daily basis but a lot of people do use them.
"We've had people that have given us feedback about lighting and potentially not feeling safe sometimes so that's definitely something we would like to address."
The project is supported by funding from the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Pocket Places programme and delivered in partnership with Highland Council and RBWCC.