Cen­tre re-vamp plans un­veiled

The Oban Times - - News -

THE LOCHABER com­mu­nity has had a first look at what the Ne­vis Cen­tre will look like fol­low­ing a £1.6mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion.

The 25-year- old build­ing is to un­dergo a ma­jor facelift, with Fort Wil­liam ar­chi­tects the Kear­ney Don­ald Part­ner­ship de­vis­ing plans, in­clud­ing a new-look foyer, bar and two mez­za­nines, as well as ex­tra toi­lets and a com­mer­cial kitchen.

Im­me­di­ate roof re­pairs will be done to stop it leak­ing.

Speak­ing af­ter a pub­lic event un­veil­ing the plans last week, Sheana Fraser, Linnhe Leisure chair­woman, said: ‘We had a re­ally good ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion with peo­ple.

‘Ev­ery­one was very pos­i­tive about the plans. It was a real chance for us to get across that the Ne­vis Cen­tre is a com­mu­nity re­source and to high­light all the things that go on here and the value it adds to Fort Wil­liam.’

It is hoped work on the cen­tre will start early next year.

As re­vealed by the Lochaber Times ear­lier this month, Ms Fraser said they hope to make the en­trance to the cen­tre more wel­com­ing.

‘We want to make the foyer more wel­com­ing and more of a so­cial space for peo­ple com­ing in. But the roof leaks so badly we can’t do any­thing in­side un­til it is fixed and that’s go­ing to cost us more than £ 350,000.

‘If the cen­tre is re­fur­bished we hope that would en­cour­age more peo­ple to use it and de­velop into new mar­kets.

‘There’s po­ten­tial there that has not been fully de­vel­oped.

‘That way we can bring in more in­come and make it more sus­tain­able, be­cause we need to make up the grant fund­ing we have lost.’

Scott Don­ald, a part­ner at Kear­ney Don­ald in Fort Wil­liam, added: ‘The com­mu­nity want us to be am­bi­tious with our plans for the cen­tre. The build­ing needs to be more at­trac­tive and ma­jor in­vest­ment in it has been needed for years. Our job as ar­chi­tects is to give our clients [ Linnhe Leisure] ideas they have not thought of for the space. We want to aim high.

‘Most peo­ple come to the cen­tre for bowl­ing and they do that at night. But the cafe shuts in the af­ter­noon so we have plans to put in a com­mer­cial kitchen which will serve food for all ar­eas of the cen­tre. So many things would not be able to be held in Fort Wil­liam if it wasn’t for the cen­tre. It’s so im­por­tant for the com­mu­nity.’

The farm­house in North Ayr­shire which won the RIAS award.

Ann Nis­bet.

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