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Wick town centre lanes project offers 'a taste of what is to come'

By Alan Hendry

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Allan Farquhar, chairman of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, at a drop-in event in Caithness House last August marking the launch of the Wick Lanes Pocket Places project.
Allan Farquhar, chairman of the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council, at a drop-in event in Caithness House last August marking the launch of the Wick Lanes Pocket Places project.

Members of the project team seeking to revitalise Wick's High Street lanes are "delighted" with the way people have engaged with the process, according to the chairman of the local community council.

Allan Farquhar says the Wick Lanes Pocket Places project offers "a taste of what is to come" for the wider regeneration of the town centre being planned for 2024/25.

Sustrans Scotland has partnered with Highland Council and the Royal Burgh of Wick Community Council (RBWCC) to "re-imagine" some of the lanes connected to High Street.

The latest stage of the project was an event in Caithness House earlier this month at which interactive workshops were hosted by two local artists, while local residents were invited to view designs that have been created based on public feedback and co-design/community outreach sessions.

Mr Farquhar was among those who attended and he was pleased to see the progress being made.

He said: "The Wick Lanes Pocket Places project team of Sustrans, Highland Council and RBWCC are progressing an initiative in accordance with the Scottish Government’s Active Travel Framework that, by 2030, 'Scotland’s communities are shaped around people and place, enabling walking and cycling to be the most popular mode of travel for short, everyday journeys'."

He also pointed to Sustrans' desire to "radically reduce traffic speed and volume, create sociable spaces where people can easily interact, better connect people to green and public space, achieve transport and planning policy that puts people first, enhance heritage and create cities and towns that are inclusive and safe for all".

Mr Farquhar said: "To that end, the project team is delighted at the response from members of the public who have contributed their thoughts and opinions at various consultations in the Pulteney Centre and Caithness House and by online submissions.

"In addition, the project team has involved local schools, designers, artists and historians and reviewed various archive collections to realise a depth and breadth of information on our local heritage which is now being considered for the detailed design phase, prior to implementation works by the end of March.

"The lanes under consideration for a makeover at this time, subject to permissions, are John Street, Tolbooth Lane and Wares Lane and provide a taste of what is to come for the town centre upgrade project during late 2024 and 2025."

An online survey has been running at www.wicklanes.co.uk

At the latest Caithness House event on November 8, Robin Burns, project lead, co-design, for Sustrans Scotland, explained that art boards will be installed in lanes and there will also be planters and furniture to add "a splash of colour". The designs will feature "artist-interpreted images" from the Johnston photographic collection held by the Wick Society.

Final designs are due to be made public early in 2024.

The lanes project is supported by funding from the Scottish Government through Sustrans Scotland’s Pocket Places programme.

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