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Wick regeneration takes a step closer with new trust

By David G Scott

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A MEETING at Wick Town Hall on Friday (July 12) will take the vision of regeneration a step closer with the formation of a new trust.

That is the hope of Wick and East Caithness councillors who received almost 40 expressions of interest from local people interested in joining a development trust for the town.

Wick and East Caithness councillors at the first town centre regeneration meeting in the town hall in April. Picture: DGS
Wick and East Caithness councillors at the first town centre regeneration meeting in the town hall in April. Picture: DGS

Councillor Nicola Sinclair said: "This is the vehicle that we hope will take forward our exciting plans for the town centre regeneration. We were overwhelmed to receive close to 40 notes of interest, which is such an encouraging start."

Letters were sent out to all the interested parties to attend a meeting at the town hall to create a Wick Development Trust for bringing the regeneration plans to the next stage.

"We will invite some speakers who have experience in running development trusts, as they can offer some very helpful advice and guidance, and we are also inviting some council officers who can help us access any support from within Highland Council," Councillor Sinclair said.

She added that the trust will be a close partnership between local councillors, wider stakeholders – including town centre businesses – and the community.

A series of funding initiatives, totalling almost £500,000, was announced last month that will help with the town centre refurbishment plans.

Speaking on behalf of the local councillors, Nicola Sinclair had said: "All four of us promised that we would take action to improve Wick town centre and we've been working towards this point for two years, researching ideas, talking to experts and potential funders and walking the town centre, taking notes and photos."

The councillors had previously described Wick town centre as "uninspiring, cold and dominated by concrete" with recent public meetings also highlighting traffic management problems such as illegal parking and congestion.

The physical regeneration of the town centre is one of three major components in the councillors’ draft regeneration plans – which also includes a flagship development for the town centre in the shape of an indoor market.

The indoor market was proposed as a desirable addition to the town centre, and identified as an ideal development in the pedestrianised Market Square.

Further funding of around £18,000 has been awarded from Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd to explore this proposal. The Highland councillors, together with Wick Community Council, say they will make more funding bids later this year.

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