Inverness moves a step closer to a greener, healthier Academy Street
Greens today expressed delight at the City of Inverness Area Committee’s decision this afternoon to open Academy Street up for pedestrians and cyclists, by ridding it of all but essential vehicles – buses, taxis, delivery vehicles and blue badge holders.
In the debate, Councillor Chris Ballance (Green, Aird and Loch Ness) argued that: "Inverness is now a city, and we need a clear vision to create a modern city. A city is a place you drive to, then walk round. A town is somewhere you drive through. Often without stopping.
This is not closing off Academy Street, it is opening up Academy Street to pedestrians and cyclists. Pedestrians and cyclists visit shops.
If the argument is that we need through traffic to generate trade, Are we also saying we should end the pedestrianisation of High Street and turn that into a traffic thoroughfare?
As a former owner of a small shop I can understand the fear that comes with any change – particularly in this era of Tory economic chaos. But Academy Street is not a healthy place. It regularly appears in the top ten of Scotland’s most polluted streets. It is not a pleasant environment to be in. The vision for the city is to make the city alive, with people living in it, a vibrant café and entertainment culture, clean air, green spaces. This proposal is the key development to create this. Cars will still be able to visit – 4500 car-parking spaces within 5 minutes walk of Academy Street. Buses and taxis will still have access. Visitors arriving by bus or train will no longer walk out to fumes, noise and dirt".
I don’t understand any objections from BID members. BID signed up to the Inverness City Vision which states “Gone will be a city centre prioritised for cars…. Instead priority will be given to pedestrians and cyclists.” This is what this proposal does".
Cllr Ryan MacKintosh (Inverness West) added "I would have liked this proposal to go further – as was asked for by the consultees at the packed Velocity Café event I attended, but I am happy to support Option B as the compromise suggestion. This Council has been talking of doing something to address the problem of Academy Street for years. We have a brilliant opportunity now, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government. We cannot vote to do nothing now".