Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, is cautiously welcoming developments in relation to the possible restoration of Viewhill House in Inverness.

Surveyor, architect and engineer reports have now been completed and presented to the community interest company, Impact Hub Inverness; one of the drivers behind the possible restoration.

David Stewart said “It’s good to hear about the progress being made and while some very exciting thought and discussion has gone in to the proposal to date, there are practical issues that still have to be addressed with ownership of the building one of the key issues.”

While the current owner of the building has been in discussion with Impact Hub and is broadly supportive of the proposal to renovate and restore the 19th century building, built by Joseph Mitchell around 1835, formal agreement and a clear title will have to be sought.

Mr Stewart continued “There is optimism and caution in equal measure here.  The building has fallen into further disrepair since last reports were done in 2010 with some internal wall collapses and some elements of the structure being in ‘challenging condition’.  Assessments have been carried out to see how the building can be stabilised and how the important structure can be retained.

“The ‘dream’ would be to largely retain the frontage of the building and the side which faces on to Old Edinburgh Road.  Parts of the building at the rear which suffered the worst fire damage may need to be demolished.

“Impact Hub has lots of ideas on how best to utilise the ground floor with possibilities so far including a café, a workshop, a tech hub, a music club and a home for other social enterprises all being in the boiling pot.” said Mr Stewart.

“What is clear is that Impact Hub still very much wants to hear ideas from near neighbours as to what they would like to see incorporated in the plans and they want to know the building will be of value to the community and will be well used by the community if developed.”

“All of this comes at a cost and next steps are to develop a Business Plan and possibly appoint a Project Manager to co-ordinate the proposal and investigate all possible funding sources including the possibility of community shares being made available.

Mr Stewart concluded “Caution is being taken and step-by-step progress is being made.  A best case scenario of a five year timescale is being muted until this proposal could become reality but so far, so good.”