The Treehouse

A new Outdoor Hub providing a social, training and activity Hub to actively engage local people with their greenspace

NatureScot GI and ERDF logo

Grantee: Scottish Canals

What we are going to do

The proposal is to create a new Outdoor Hub to provide a social, training and activity Hub to actively engage local people with their greenspace through a wide range of methods, primarily for South Kessock and Merkinch and Scorguie and Dalneigh areas of Inverness but with much wider-reaching potential. This new space is currently referred to as Carse Outdoor Hub.  The project involves the construction of two connected new buildings to house these activities and includes innovative access, greenspace and SUDS improvements to ensure the project is truly exemplary in terms of placemaking and regeneration impact.  The project will improve and reinforce physical access for Merkinch / South Kessock residents to the new facility and the canal and will support a number of local outdoor-based organisations and projects to come together under one roof, taking a coordinated approach to delivering their activities and cross-referring participants to ensure a greater depth of greenspace engagement among local communities.

The project will not only provide the physical base from which these activities can be delivered; its unique geographical position will also allow it to make new outdoor connections between Carse Industrial Estate and the residential area of Merkinch, to the canal basin at Muirtown and Merkinch Local Nature Reserve, thus improving the local infrastructure and providing new access routes to greenspace.

In addition, Scottish Waterways Trust will employ a Community Engagement Officer to work within the communities during the construction and once SWT have moved into the Hub itself, to encourage local community use of the greenspace and facilitate schools, volunteering and employability activity and health-focused greenspace work.

The project has been split into two phases, due to: the large overall project cost, the need to facilitate funders' timescales and outcomes, and the different offerings of the two connected buildings making them appropriate for different funders. For the purposes of this application, therefore, the project for which we are applying will create the main Hub Building on Carse Industrial Estate and deliver the green infrastructure improvements and new path connections to the canal. Phase 2 will be the creation of the second, canalside building, and will follow on directly from Phase 1.

Where the idea for the project came from

The proposed project site has suffered from market failure, having been on the Vacant and Derelict Land Register for 15 years without any interest in being developed. The project has been several years in development; Scottish Canals originally planned to use the site for car parking to help service moorings in Muirtown Basin.  However, following ongoing engagement in the area, the new outdoor hub project was identified in order to create a development which would not only benefit the canal but also begin to change the dynamic of the industrial / business estate which sits between South Kessock and the canal and to effect positive change in South Kessock.

How the community has helped us develop our ideas

The local communities of Merkinch / Scorguie / South Kessock / Clachnaharry were the key stakeholders in our charrette process in 2014. Over 200 people attended the charrette which was followed up by 2015 consultation events.

How our project fits into the bigger picture

The project will enable local people and visitors to take part in healthy pursuits including watersports, cycling and health walks to connect people with the area’s unique natural ecology and waterspaces and try to tackle the area’s prevalent health and social problems.  In addition to the provision of a new building with community facilities, there will be a transformational infrastructure change in reconnecting residents of South Kessock and Merkinch with the greenspace.

The proposal will develop a derelict site within the Carse Industrial area on the edge of South Kessock – one of the most deprived areas in the Highlands.  The development will have a relationship with South Kessock / Carse estate at the lower (ground) level and physical interaction with the canalside at upper level.  There are a series of supporting public realm, access improvements, SUDS and greenspace interventions to put this location and building at the heart of the area’s regeneration strategy. 

How our project will make a difference in the long-term

The buildings will provide a game changer in terms of how the South Kessock area currently engages with the canal.  The design and layout associated with new access and signage improvements will make it far easier and appealing for local residents to get up to the canal and give them a range of opportunities for visiting and enjoying activities associated with the project.


Green Infrastructure

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