New project manager Martin Culbertson to help deliver Fort William vision
FW2040, the Masterplan and Delivery Programme for Fort William and Lochaber, has taken a significant step forward with the appointment of its first dedicated project manager.
Martin Culbertson has been appointed and will co-ordinate its overall delivery, help support and develop individual projects, and ensure the local community are kept fully updated and engaged with the process. The post is being co-funded by the Highland Council and Crown Estate Scotland.
FW2040 was produced following community consultation in 2018/19 seeking priorities for the future development of the town and surrounding area. Feedback from participants helped to create a vision, masterplan and delivery programme designed to achieve those priorities. This focuses on four key themes, which aim to make Fort William “A Great Place to Live”, “A Connected Place”, “A Place Facing Water”, and “A Net Zero Town”.
Multiple organisations are contributing to this vision by delivering projects under the FW2040 banner. These include Thomas Telford Corpach Marina, active travel developments, the new Belford Hospital, new housing developments, flood protection works and improved internet connection speeds among others. Over the lifetime of the programme, additional projects will emerge and develop in response to further consultation and new funding opportunities.
Initial priorities have included reviewing progress of current projects and looking to ensure clear and regular communication about the progress and challenges of delivering FW2040. Work is about to take place to update the project website to make this is as accessible and user friendly as possible. Key project priorities for the next 12 months will include consideration of short and medium term options for town centre regeneration and supporting the development of an integrated transport plan for Fort William.
Work is also underway to establish a Community Stakeholders’ Group consisting of representatives from local community councils, local Elected Members, and key community organisations. This group will help to monitor the progress of FW2040, scrutinise individual projects and will ensure good two-way communication between the communities and the Programme Board.
Councillor Ken Gowans, chair of the Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, said: “The appointment of a dedicated Project Manager for FW2040 is a significant step forward as it is the first time we have had such a resource to help deliver identified projects and to work with communities in identifying new priorities for not just Fort William, but the wider Lochaber area. Martin brings a wealth of experience to the post, having worked with Lochaber organisations for many years, delivering EU LEADER funded projects.”
Alastair Nicolson, HIE area manager for Lochaber Skye & Wester Ross and current chair of the FW2040 board, added: “Fort William needs to grow at pace to meet the needs of communities and businesses. The masterplan sets out a high-level vision for that growth and how local people want the town to look and feel in the future. Martin’s appointment as project manager will strengthen collaboration among partners and help maximise opportunities to secure additional funding to deliver the masterplan ambitions.”
Penny Coles, Highland & Islands engagement manager for Crown Estate Scotland, said: “We’re very pleased to be co-funding this important post, which will help make the FW2040 vision a reality. Crown Estate Scotland has worked closely with the local community over many years, and recently committed to providing a capital investment of £500,000 to help Thomas Telford Corpach Marina to completion, which is one of the exciting projects in the FW2040 Programme. We are looking forward to assisting Martin in his new role and identifying opportunities for Crown Estate Scotland to help more projects that will benefit the coastal communities in the region.”