Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

Inverness infill tackles housing shortage

December 18 2017

Inverness infill tackles housing shortage
Norr Architects have brought forward plans to build 40 affordable flats above four ground floor retail units in Inverness city centre.

Supplanting a former supermarket and car showroom the Academy Street project will split retail and pedestrian access from the front elevation and rear (School Lane) frontages respectively.

In a statement the architects observed: “A limited material palette combining a mixture of urban rainscreen cladding materials is proposed. Render and curtain walling are selectively used throughout the development, helping to break up the mass of the buildings and in turn create interesting juxtapositions of materials. The result is a self assured architectural language which allows the design to portray a modern crisp development.”  

The mixed use build is being delivered on behalf of Capital Developments, The Highland Housing Alliance and Highland Council.


#1 Posted by Sven on 18 Dec 2017 at 11:22 AM
May I point out that this development will massively overlook an historic district? Behind it is the beautiful Dunbar's Hospital, one of Scotland's best preserved renaissance buildings.

We can also add in that several Georgian townhouses have recently been demolished across the street from this proposed development to build yet more of these non-architecture flats. Academy street is heavily congested and highly polluted without more height enclosing pollution at ground level. Whilst this is an improvement on the current building, the height, mass and banality are not.
#2 Posted by StyleCouncil on 18 Dec 2017 at 12:19 PM
Utter rubbish.
WTF is 'urban rain screen cladding' and is it appropriate for the centre of Inverness?
'Interesting juxtaposition of materials' I think not. Yet more drivel from talentless 'architects'
#3 Posted by REALStyleCouncil on 18 Dec 2017 at 14:22 PM
I think this scheme looks great and will help with the rejuvenation of Academy Street which is currently filled with many derelict and ugly buildings. It certainly is much better than the existing FarmFoods building and will help with the growing housing demand in Inverness!
#4 Posted by Sven on 18 Dec 2017 at 14:57 PM
@#3. Ah the marketing ploy of late ''housing shortage'. Inverness has been one large building estate for decades and has recently planned 400 more and that is after several other massive house builds. Even the local Housing Associations have been building and building. Where exactly is this housing shortage in Inverness?
#5 Posted by REALStyleCouncil on 18 Dec 2017 at 16:00 PM
@#4 Well, this is possibly the reason why Inverness has become THE fastest growing city in Western Europe? I certainly wouldn't say it has taken away from that fact. They must be doing something right, wouldn't you say?

I'd love to hear your opinions on the existing FarmFoods building Sven & StyleCouncil? Would you say that the existing building is less of a blight on Academy Street than the proposed one, or do you feel it better promotes the very derelict end of Academy Street with which I am very familiar with? Also, do you feel this building will help keep Inverness on track as the fastest growing city or will this negate its progress? As I'm certainly no Architect, I'd be very keen to hear your expert opinions, you both seem like individuals who are very knowledgeable about the present-day development needs of Inverness and the integration of modern-day buildings into historic townscapes.
#6 Posted by StyleCouncil on 18 Dec 2017 at 18:23 PM
Erm, two wrong don't make a right #3
The Farmfoods building is not bonny but the new proposal is a very poor effort for a new build apartment block. It does nothing to reinforce the character of Academy St. There are plenty examples of how high quality (modern) architecture can work well in historic contexts. This is a banal box, clad with ‘urban rainscreen’ and an interesting juxtaposition of materials……
I was in Inverness over the weekend. The centre is dire, from a quality of urban environment and architecture point of view. Zero cohesion and very, very little quality other than the odd Victorian lump or vernacular remnant...cowering in the shadow of that ridiculous, crass and outscaled shopping centre.
Inverness may be THE fastest growing city in the #galaxy, who cares. The state of the centre and the mile upon mile of crap suburban dross housing and roundabout(ed) spur roads is seriously depressing. Why should Inverness be congratulated for this?..

#7 Posted by MV on 18 Dec 2017 at 21:43 PM
Why did Norr even bother writing that stuff? It seems more effort has gone into the text than into the “design”. Unless... the text has been copied and pasted from another project (although I can’t think what one)? Even for Norr, or whatever they’ll call themselves next week, this IS dismal.

Nobody cares anymore. Maybe it’s just that Inverness is THE fastest growing town in Western Europe, and it’s all about quantity... not quality?
#8 Posted by Cadmonkey on 19 Dec 2017 at 09:44 AM
A few observations....
1. Why does “city centre” Inverness have to be such low quality design and materials compared to other Scottish City centres.
2. Since when did people who live in 1 bedroom flats not like taking baths?
3. Do the planned residents here not own a car, or even a bike?
4. Where is the lift over run? Or is that aesthetically inconvenient?
5. Seems excessively generous circulation - nice.

A rather half baked and premature submission
#9 Posted by Jakey on 19 Dec 2017 at 10:51 AM
This is such a disappointing proposal. Academy Street and the centre of Inverness has such rich heritage and this scheme takes absolutely no consideration of it. The site is within a Conservation Area and I cannot believe that this proposal will complement the designation's principles of design.

Yes, there are several other big Lego block buildings in the centre but these are typically for the dark times of the 1960's and 70s. Look at the poor 19th century buildings this proposal will sit next to! In fact the building they intend to knock down is actually a very early car garage and has some nice features.

The Council should quick quickly and firmly send out a message that we will no longer accept such poor quality proposals in the town centre.
#10 Posted by Sven on 19 Dec 2017 at 11:59 AM
"THE fastest growing city in Western Europe?"

Fastest growing what exactly? the slogan with no basis in fact. The boundaries of the city are not even defined, it is presumed to be the boundaries of the old Burgh, which excludes most of the new build areas such as Smithton, Culloden, Balloch, Westhill, Culduthel and Milton of Leys.

Even if you take population, urban growth and every other measure, it is not even in the top 50 in Europe.

The current buildings, a used car show room converted into a retail unit is hideous, but is also unobtrusive in size being single storied.The planned development squeezes as much into a tiny site with no regard to facilities. Where do the people park, place their multitude of bins (Highland Council has 5 bins, even assuming a refuse and plastic/paper/glass that is still a large number of bins needing housed).

Using 'Housing shortage' as a strawman argument is foundation-less.
light fuse retire safely
#11 Posted by light fuse retire safely on 19 Dec 2017 at 13:44 PM
Mibbes the clue is in the title, 'architects' i.e. they are paid to do their client's bidding. Mibbes it's a starting point for their negotiations with the planners in that the client knows full well their development costs will only go up.
Norr are only architects. Whats all the fuss about? These schemes are ten a penny on UR but do not attract such comment. The role of the architect in these matters is way over-stated.
#12 Posted by Beetlejuice on 19 Dec 2017 at 17:19 PM
Just to add.... Keppie produced and helped deliver a very similar looking scheme on Academy Street a few years ago. In fact, based on the position of the above image, I believe this new proposal is directly opposite it! Check it out, or if there are any native Invernessians who can confirm this please let us know because there are some very strong similarities here
#13 Posted by Holmer on 19 Dec 2017 at 19:43 PM
#12 correct. The key difference though is that the keppie scheme is a decent effort. Its a similar scale to it's neighbouring buildings and they spent more than 5 minutes choosing the limited palette of materials. Whereas, this is a half baked shambles!
WRONG Holmer
#14 Posted by WRONG Holmer on 20 Dec 2017 at 11:37 AM
#13. The buildings are virtually the same, in all likeliness they had to do a proposal which required the total of 40 rooms so the extra height would have been needed to satisfy their clients, similar to what #11 was saying. The role of the architect in these matters is WAY over-stated, they can only work with what their clients want! The building is likely to be taken down a level if you look at similar proposals! I must say I've never met a bunch of more negative people in a forum before, I think you could all do with a bit more cheer, or possibly if any of you are actually qualified to know what your talking about in this field you should be working on your own projects rather than winging about other Architects!
WRONG Holmer
#15 Posted by WRONG Holmer on 20 Dec 2017 at 12:50 PM
Sounds like Holmer must work for Keppie!
Galdalf the Pink
#16 Posted by Galdalf the Pink on 20 Dec 2017 at 14:35 PM
So, Inverness... I know it well.

There is no getting away from it, it's a bit of a dogs dinner. The city centre and suburbs have been abused for decades.

When the new shopping centre opened it was hailed as a success for the city that would attract shoppers away from the retail parks. And it did. However, they stick to the shopping centre and not Academy Street or the High Street. The empty units, the two Pound Lands within spitting distance of each other, the plethora of charity shops don't point to a vibrant city centre.

The 'burbs' are filled with low quality (and high priced...) housing, scheme after scheme of Tulloch homes, all looking the same in 'architecture' and layout.

So, what will this scheme add to the city centre? Not much. Will it make it any worse? No, but it won't make it any better. Will the tourists be upset? I doubt tourists really pay much attention to that end of the street. Should we be surprised that developers roll out uninspiring design? No, not when city councils accept such flaccid efforts.

#5 - That story is from 2007? 10 years go?
#17 Posted by REALStyleCouncil on 22 Dec 2017 at 11:52 AM
#16 - You're point being? From what you've been describing Inverness hasn't changed its approach to the city centre and suburbs for years so this fact is likely still valid. Also not sure how Architect's sticking to the brief they've had to work with qualifies it as a flaccid effort? Looking at how awkward the site is and the requirement for apartments its a fair enough attempt, especially when you consider its AFFORDABLE housing, so no Zaha Hadid budgets for a building that resembles some intricate organic structure with ultra high-quality materials! Would be interested to see other concepts of how to fit 40 rooms and retail on to that plot!
Gandalf the Pink
#18 Posted by Gandalf the Pink on 22 Dec 2017 at 19:13 PM
#17 - of course the design can be improved.

Consider trip across the North Sea to The Netherlands or the Nordic countries and study what they are up to with social housing. Low budget does not always automatically equate to poor design.
#19 Posted by Sven on 29 Dec 2017 at 20:59 PM
I spent Christmas with the in-laws in Inverness. I studied this area and I am now even more solid in my argument. Academy Street, named in the early 19th century after the 3 schools on this new street, has been some what mauled by 1960-80s architecture. The buildings being demolished, 3, are of plain design, the frontage on Academy street is banal. The larger of the 3, on School Lane, has interesting 1950-60 louvre windows in a wide industrial style. In Shoredtich this would have been converted into several flats long ago, but here we feel the need to knock them down for shallow empty promises of 'affordable housing'. Such sadness infests our land.

Post your comments


All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.


Back to December 2017

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.