Viewhill House Update
Posted on 25th April 2018.
Highland Historic Buildings Trust (HHBT) has always considered that it is important to have regard to Viewhill House as the former home of Joseph Mitchell, arguably the Highlands’ leading road and bridges engineer (both in his own right and as Thomas Telford’s right hand man).
Mitchell was also responsible for the first ever mains drainage scheme and public water supply for the town of Inverness. In addition, he oversaw the routing and construction of the Perth to Inverness railway in the 1840s. Joseph Mitchell's contribution to the science of engineering, and to the quality of life in Inverness in the mid nineteenth century Scotland, was immense. It is fitting therefore that his family home, which he designed himself, be restored and given a new life and purpose including a visitor centre displaying and interpreting his huge body of work.
HHBT also considers that it is important to have regard to Viewhill House because of its prominent setting in the City Centre and on the skyline of Inverness. The importance of the building as a vital townscape feature on the escarpment skyline has been emphasised by recent developments such as the inter-visibility provided by the Castle Viewpoint and with the possibility of a tourism development at the Castle moving forward, together with the prospects of relocating Porterfield Prison opening up more development opportunities for the Crown area.
The Trust welcomes the recently adopted City Centre Development Brief as confirmation of the Highland Council’s continuing support for the adaptive re-use of Viewhill House and that the Council will adopt a flexible approach to proposed alternative uses.
Having looked at six potential uses, preference is being given to eight serviced apartments as the most sustainable end use. The Trust is currently seeking an operator for the serviced apartments. Heritage outcomes would be achieved through the restoration and sustainable use of an important historic building and through an exhibition which focuses on the life and achievements of Joseph Mitchell. There would be scope during the reconstruction and redevelopment works for people to be trained in traditional skills.
To achieve the financial and other resilience necessary to submit major funding applications, the Trust continues to work with grant-giving bodies, the Highland Council, the local Community Council and others. National support for the refurbishment of the building as a tribute to Joseph Mitchell continues to be received from a wide range of organisations and individuals.
The Trust continues to engage with local interests and would welcome any support from Invernessians and others with an interest in Viewhill House.