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Council Approves Final Design Of Inverness's Iconic New Gathering Place On The River Ness

11th December 2020

Photograph of Council Approves Final Design Of Inverness's Iconic New Gathering Place On The River Ness

Highland Council Members last night (10 December 2020) approved the artists' detail design for the My Ness Gathering Place project and work is expected to begin in the new year.

Works had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also due to design elements requested by Inverness City Area Members, which will further ensure the new iconic Gathering Place is accessible to all.

Without departing from the original concept the artist and design team have incorporated several refinements in the detail design, including rest stops and a widening to the end of the pier to accommodate a turning circle for wheelchair users and signage which highlights the work is closed during high water events.

Off-site fabrication work is set to begin by Beauly-based construction firm Simpsons as early as January, in preparation for onsite work to be undertaken when weather allows in the spring.

Chair of the ICArts Working Group, Cllr Isabelle MacKenzie, said: "It’s a unique piece and I believe that with the artist and designer’s international status that this is an asset to any city, especially when we have the river and the Castle in the distance.

“I would call this an intergenerational piece. It’s the fact that the artists have delivered a piece that everyone will be able to come together to pause and reflect, but also enjoy the amphitheatre framing the life the river creates."

She added: “Thousands of people are going to be attracted to Inverness with all the work already planned for the Castle and this piece will be another reason to be proud of the Highland capital. It is also important to thank Creative Scotland for its tremendous support.”

“The team behind the scenes and committee members have supported this project throughout and we are now looking at the finished project, which will be unique and something which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.”

Inverness Provost, Cllr Helen Carmichael, said: “It is very clear that as artists you have listened very, very carefully to all the views. We appreciate the time and effort the designers have put into the detail design, without losing the originality of the piece.

“The greatest irony of the Gathering Place is abundantly clear during the current pandemic, but the fact it is due to be completed as we continue our journey to vaccinate our communities provides hope that people can get together once again and celebrate this unique landmark.”

Members also noted that the final design also falls within the terms of all existing statutory consents and the final adjustments to the design of the My Ness project falls within the current budget allocation. The project itself remains fully funded.

It was also noted that the Ness Angling Club have decided not to proceed with their project to replace the Fisherman’s Hut, but Members noted that this decision does not prevent the construction of the My Ness art piece.

Tristan Surtees, of the artist team Sans façon and OSA, said: “It’s clear to us that the much-loved iconic River Ness is what should take centre stage. Our role as artists is to create a moment along the river to gather, to observe the historic, environmental and social qualities this fantastic asset holds for the city.”

He added: “Working closely with Beauly-based Simpsons construction throughout detail design has offered the project the craftsmanship and attention to detail in construction that a work of this kind deserves, matched with the locally quarried Clashach stone the My Ness Gathering Place will be an integrated new addition to the cityscape that feels of its place.”