by Colin Campbell
WHILE the Gathering Place fiasco remains a dominant issue at one prime point on the riverside, a mile-and-a-half downriver another potential object of criticism and controversy is taking shape.
And it is massive.
The new hotel being built on the site of former Inverness swimming baths at least has some obvious purpose, unlike the “unique wall artwork”.
But how much approval it will gain from the public when finished very much remains to be seen.
The dereliction of the baths site has existed for nearly three decades, with a succession of development plans for it falling through. That in itself has added to a sense of near desperation at the council to find something to fill the eyesore site.
“Eyesore site” it may have been but at least it was a ground level eyesore and you had to be in the immediate vicinity to take any notice of it.
That certainly can’t be said of the new hotel being built there.
The frame of one eight storey section has already been completed. Think of The Palace, The Columba, The Glenmoriston, The Glenmhor, the structure is twice and more the size of any of these hotels already.
And that’s only the first section. Three more, albeit of lesser height, will be added on, spanning what seems a vast stretch of the riverside.
I’ve heard a series of critical comments from different people on the height, scale and dominance of what’s being built.
It will tower over every other building on the riverside, with most of them looking like dolls houses by comparison.
A previous hotel offering for the site which was compared to an old Soviet bloc factory was rejected by councillors. But what’s being built now gained approval.
It was accompanied by artists’ pretty picture drawings, which rarely turn out to represent reality.
In this case the new building may or may not be pleasing to the eye, depending on who’s looking at it, but there can be no dispute over its size and riverside dominance.
Unlike the Gathering Place travesty which was obviously a travesty virtually from day one, people will wait and see what the new hotel looks like after it’s finished.
But as massive section after massive section is added on, it’s sure to be a talking point, and indeed already is.
Because as talking points go, this gargantuan addition to the riverside is one that just cannot be missed.