Highland Council

01/11/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/11/2024 05:33

Highland beauty spot in Assynt Sutherland set for new parking and public amenities

A new high-quality parking and toilet facility to help alleviate pressures on an Assynt beauty spot are due to begin in January 2024.

The project at Achmelvich beach will comprise of an extension to the existing carpark increasing capacity to accommodate 71 car parking spaces, and a modern toilet block that will replace the existing single unit with a larger facility incorporating disabled access, baby changing and an outdoor shower facility. The project will also include a modest space for visitor interpretation.

The Highland Council's - Economy and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans said: "Members were very supportive of this project when it came to E&I committee for financial support in 2022, and I am very pleased to see it has been able to secure the additional funding required through Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF) and Highland Coastal Communities Fund. Achmelvich is a popular stopping point on the North Coast 500 and part of a National Scenic Area. It's important that popular tourist destinations such as this offer suitable facilities for visitors whilst protecting and managing the surrounding landscape. This new facility has been carefully designed to meet the needs of the public whilst being sensitive to the environment that surrounds it."

This project has been made possible by a £300,000 capital investment from The Highland Council, which has unlocked £500,000 of grant from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (administered by VisitScotland) which was created to support projects in rural parts of Scotland that have faced pressure due to significant increases in visitor numbers; and £246,678 from the Highland Coastal Communities Fund which is designed to support economic regeneration and sustainable development around coastal areas in Highland.

G Simpsons (Builders) Limited of Beauly have been appointed principal contractor for the works with the contract programme expected to run from January 2024 to a summer completion.

Destination Development Director at VisitScotland, Chris Taylor, said: "A healthy visitor economy is crucial for the Highlands as a successful visitor destination - it generates jobs and income in rural communities which rely on tourism and ensures we remain a must-visit, must-return region.

"Communities are at the heart of tourism, and I am pleased that this project will provide community benefit and create a more positive experience for both locals and visitors. It will mean significant and long-lasting improvement to visitor infrastructure in the region."

Managing Director from Simpson Builders, Gordon Simpson, said: "We are delighted to be awarded the contract to construct the new toilet facilities and parking at Achmelvich. The area is a popular location for visitors and locals alike and it is important to have facilities in this highland beauty spot which are both functional and pleasing to the local environment. The location is logistically challenging and remote which is something we are used to working around and are looking forward to working with The Highland Council and other stakeholders in delivery of this exciting project."