Strengthening town centres in Caithness and Sutherland
11th June 2019
The Highland Council is asking communities and other stakeholders for their thoughts and opinion on a draft strategy to improve the town centres of Brora, Dornoch, Golspie, Thurso and Wick.
The draft Caithness and Sutherland Town Centre Strategy presents several potential actions for each of the town centres. These actions have been identified based on the findings of the 2018 Town Centre Health Check undertaken by the Council. The actions are aimed at making the town centres more attractive, active or accessible. This can benefit those who use the town centres - residents, workers or visitors - and strengthen the businesses and services based there.
Town Centre Health Checks are a means of assessing the strength, vitality and performance of town centres over time. To make the information easier to access, a "Story Map" is available on the Council's website which illustrates the circumstances and findings for each town centre.
Once approved in its final form, the Strategy will provide a more detailed framework of potential actions (an action programme) that will outline steps that may be taken by a range of individuals and bodies to improve their town centres and allow the Council to respond appropriately to any future planning applications.
Councillor Richard Gale, Chair of the Sutherland County Committee, said: "Town centres in Sutherland are at the heart of our communities and we must help to find ways to make the most of them. I'm very pleased to see the Town Centre Strategy being prepared as it will set out a plan for addressing the issues which were found as part of last year's town centre health checks."
Councillor Matthew Reiss, Chair of the Caithness Committee, said: "With the challenges we are facing in Caithness we need to ensure that the town centres are thriving and attractive places. The town centre health checks provided us with valuable data about the current situation in our main town centres and this strategy document now provides an excellent opportunity to set out what needs to happen to deliver the change that’s needed. It’s also a timely piece of work, particularly given the momentum currently being generated by local people to transform Wick town centre."
The Strategy should reflect several other plans and proposals being developed within the communities and the Council would welcome information on relevant actions and projects that could contribute to the Town Centre Strategy.
The consultation on the draft Strategy starts on Friday 14 June and runs until Friday 23 August 2019. View and comment on the draft Strategy, online at
consult.highland.gov.uk . Anyone without internet access can view the document online at Highland Council Public Libraries, Service Points and Access Points. A paper copy of the documentation is available to view in Mobile Libraries operating in the Caithness and Sutherland area and at the Highland Council Headquarters (Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, IV3 5NX).
This documentation is available for inspection free of charge and during normal opening hours. Anyone requiring a large print copy or have any questions, please email email@example.com or phone 01349 886608.
Following the freezing of some charges and suspension of enforcement for others during the lockdown period, The Highland Council has been following a phased return to normal operations since the 26th of June. Further details are given below.
Many Highland Council tenants may be missing out on help towards their rent from Universal Credit because they have not notified the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of their annual rent increase which came into effect on the 30th March 2020. Those tenants who have not yet reported their rent increase could be facing a shortfall in the help they receive towards their rent, putting them at risk of rent arrears.
The Highland Council is updating parents and carers of its position on early learning and childcare (ELC). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Scottish Government removed the statutory requirement for Local Authorities to deliver 1140 hours of ELC from August.
Following on from the recent publication of Highland Council's Supporting Economic Recovery in Highland - A Guide for Businesses - the Council is announcing relaxation of some controls that will assist tourist accommodation providers have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In recognition of this where there are specific planning and licensing controls in relation to occupancy, for example: a restriction on the occupancy of any caravan for a continuous 12 month period; or where conditions restrict occupancy for specific periods of time, ...these will be relaxed by the Council up to and including April 2021.
The Caithness Committee met virtual today for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic and it's agenda focused on the actions taken by the Council and the third sector to deal with the effects of Coronavirus in Caithness. The Executive Chief Officer for Education and Learning, Paul Senior, gave members an update on the plans and preparations underway to prepare for the return of pupils and staff to Caithness schools in August.
Margaret Davidson, the Leader of the Highland Council has given her strong support to the efforts of the Scottish Government to obtain greater fiscal flexibility from the UK Government. The Scottish Government have sought flexibility to offset capital underspend against resource expenditure, more flexibility over resource borrowing and greater flexibility over the use of the reserve for capital.
The Highland Council is planning to re-open play areas across the region throughout summer. Advice was provided by the Scottish Government on 28 June as to the safety measures that should be applied.
The Highland Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland recognised to develop a Schools Digital Learning Hub, which provides a resource for staff, parents and pupils to support home learning. Prior to Covid-19, we had an estate of 27,000 Chromebooks that were already a part of our ICT in Learning Strategy.
Earlier today (Wednesday 1 July 2020) members of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee had the opportunity to discuss (by video conference) progress made with the Corran Ferry Project which is reviewing the options for securing a replacement ferry and considering the way forward for the future operation and management of the service. The Corran ferry service has reached a critical point and strategic decisions need to be made.
As Scotland prepares for the easing of lockdown and the re-opening of the tourism and hospitality sector, The Highland Council's Environmental Health are advising holiday accommodation providers to make sure their private water supplies are safe to drink. A large number of self-catering and tourist accommodation in the Highlands are served by private water supplies and with these being closed during the lockdown period, the water supply system may not have been maintained and could create a risk to the quality and safety of the drinking water.