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Caithness News Bulletins February 2007

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Highland Council

HIE Caithness And Sutherland

15 February 07
Wick Project Updates Are All Good News

Local activists and agency staff members of the Wick Project were very satisfied to hear on Tuesday (13 February 2007) that real progress has been made on a number of important projects in the town demonstrating that regeneration efforts are certainly paying off.

Wick Project members heard that new Highland Council offices will be in place by next year, the Lower Pulteneytown Town Heritage Initiative and the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) are progressing well, the CCTV scheme is nearing implementation, the Caithness Heat & Power scheme is expanding and arrangements for a variety of local events, such as a fly-in at Wick Airport and the Highland 2007 traditional boats flotilla, are set to generate a buzz of activity and interest in the town.

Councillor Bill Fernie, who chaired the meeting, expressed his delight that so many of the project updates were upbeat. “I’m extremely pleased there is so much positive development work going on in the town. Individually these are good news stories for Wick but it is clear that development breeds development and that one project leads to another. All the people involved in these initiatives, and numerous others not mentioned here today, are helping to drive change in the town. It’s gratifying to see that community organisations, the Council and the other agencies are working in partnership wherever possible. The total regeneration effort in Wick amounts to more than the sum of its parts. The evidence presented at this meeting shows that working together makes us stronger.”

New Council Offices For Wick and Town Centre Regeneration
Highland Council Caithness Area Manager, Ian Hargrave, reported to Tuesday’s meeting that the Highland Council has set in motion a process that will see new their new Wick premises under construction by early 2008. A preferred scheme will be selected by the autumn 2007 and the contractors will be obligated not just to provide the much needed new office accommodation for Highland Council staff but will be committed to redeveloping the Highland Council’s Market Square site within 2 years after staff move to their new office. Mr Hargrave also stated that provision will be made to ensure that the Highland Council Service Point remains in the centre of Wick. Councillor Bill Fernie said, "This initiative by the council will not only give council staff much need modern office accommodation but with the regeneration of High Street and Market Square bring about four or five years of construction work to Wick - probably the biggest investment in Wick for 40 years. I am sure that other private developers will be encouraged by this boost to bring forward their own initiatives for the town"

Pulteneytown Townscape Heritage Initiative Investment to Reach £9 Million
Members also welcomed news that the Lower Pulteneytown Townscape Heritage Initiative is expected to meet the expected £4.5million investment on its completion later this year and that a subsequent scheme with a slightly wider catchment area, the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, is progressing well and should eventually bring a further £4.5million of development cash into the town. Lower Pulteneytown Townscape Heritage Project Manager, Mick Broad, informed the meeting that a formal contract between Historic Scotland and the Highland Council has now been agreed. An initial grant of £1.5million would, he hoped, encourage other agencies and private investors to contribute towards the continued redevelopment of Lower Pulteneytown. During the 10 years that the schemes have and will continue to run (the THI having started in 2001 and CARS expected to close in 2011) a total of £9million will have been invested in restoration and redevelopment of the Lower Pulteneytown area of Wick. Mr Broad stressed that “private investment will have accounted for half of the sum to be spent in this area, clearly demonstrating business sector confidence in the long-term economic future of the town.”

Wick 21's Waterfront Plans Still Moving Ahead
Although he had been unable to attend the meeting, local businessman John Sutherland, had provided information that the Wick 21 group’s plans for the redevelopment of the Wick harbour and riverside area has taken another step forward and his group is currently putting together a funding package to support more project planning work which will enable Wick21 to apply for outline planning permission. Outline planning will be sought for the entire scheme which includes a training hotel, a tidal barrage bridge and a footbridge, a watersports centre and office space. Once outline is permission is granted Mr Sutherland hopes that Wick 21 will be in a position to seek European funding for the project.

Wick's New Heating Scheme Expanding
Caithness Heat & Power representatives Councillor Graeme Smith and Elizabeth Marshall reported that agreement has been reached with the NHS that Caithness General Hospital will be linked to the Pulteneytown heat and power scheme. The scheme was continuing to progress well in the Pulteneytown residential area and 190 houses will have been connected by the end of the week.

100 Small Aircraft To Land At Wick In One Day In May 2007
The Scottish Aero Club has been speaking to Wick Airport about a “fly-in” in May which will see up to 100 aircraft landing at the airport in the course of one day. Wick Project members were keen to see that the event is capitalized on for the benefit of the town and to improve the experience of the visitors. It was agreed that the Wick Community Council would be invited to become involved if there were to be any complementary events laid on in the town.

Traditional Boat Flotilla To Start With Wick Harbour Fest Weekend
The concluding report at the meeting was an update on the Traditional Boat Flotilla scheduled to take place in June between Wick and other ports along the coast as far as Port Soy. Wick Harbour and other local organisations have a key role in this and organisation of a 3-day event at the Harbour is well is hand. Harbourfest, as the event will be billed is part of the Highland 2007 cultural programme and will involve a full entertainment programme in Wick with supporting maritime and fishing heritage displays and demonstrations, market stalls, film shows and other events over the weekend of 22-24 June. The report, provided by Harbour Master Malcolm Bremner, pointed out that as well as traditional Scottish vessels, there would be participation from as far afield as Norway, Faroe and the Netherlands.

The Wick Project is a community planning organisation made up of representatives of the local voluntary sector and local agency staff and focuses on the regeneration of Wick. Meetings are held quarterly and the next get together will be in May 2007.

Flotilla Of Boats  - Starts From Wick 23 June 2007 -
Other events in Wick for the flotilla weekend including entertainment, ceilidhs and so on will bring the town to life.
Programme of Weekend Events on Wick Heritage web site - Friday 22nd - Sunday 23rd June
Bill Fernie's Snapshot of Changing Wick in December 2005 - Most has happened or is ongoing
What Else Has Come Into Wick Recently
New Shops
Homebase, Newlook, Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Superdrug, Argos, Pets At Home
Another New Shopping Complex by Scapa Properties is proposed next to Tesco
Business Park Units expanded to five with two new building currently under construction
New Dental Clinic opened recently.
Wick's Redevelopment
The momentum in the redevelopment of Wick has been building up over the past three years and is set to continue with the new council offices and High Street - Market Square now firmly in line for redevelopment over the next four to five years bringing in more work to the town.