A plan to light up three historic Forres monuments has taken a step forward with the project receiving planning permission and securing £50,000 of funding.
Permission has been granted to light up Nelson’s Tower, The Tolbooth and the Mercat Cross.
The planning application was submitted by the Forres Heritage Trust who own the Tolbooth and look after Nelson’s Tower on behalf of Moray Council.
The Trust has also secured £30,000 funding from Berry Burn Community Fund, £15,000 from Forres Features Limited, the company who staged Colours of Cluny and The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation has agreed to give £5,000.
Leading on the project on behalf of the Forres Heritage Trust are trustees Bob James and Bill Budge.
Bob James explained: “We are delighted with both the news that we have received planning permission and the funding and we are very grateful to the organisations who took our applications, considered them and have taken the decision to grant money to us so generously. This is certainly a step in the right direction, although there is still a long way to go.
“To complete the project we will need around £111,000 in total, so whilst these donations are significant, the Trust is still exploring ways to secure the rest of the money required to make this happen.”
He added: “These buildings are part of Forres’ rich history and lighting them up will make them a beacon and encourage interest and tourism for the buildings themselves but also create a feature for the people of Forres to enjoy.”
The Trust has appointed RYBKA, an international firm who specialise in lighting design and have an established history of delivering heritage building lighting schemes. They are also working with award-winning Forres based LDN Architects who have a recognised track history of being involved in projects which have strong heritage connections. Both companies are offering their services at substantially reduced rates recognising that Forres Heritage Trust is a registered charity.
Bill Budge said: “This project has been in the planning for a number of years and was part of a public consultation which was part of Moray Council’s strategic plan.
“With the support of RYBKA and LDN we were able to create a robust proposal and Moray Council has granted planning permission. The only conditions they have imposed are that we submit detailed drawings of our cable runs and that we restore any disturbance we may create to its previous condition.
“We have also had an ecology survey carried out and this established that we will not disturb the bats, with either their roosts, their foraging routes or the type of lighting we use. Furthermore we will have to have an archaeological watch over any trenches we may need to dig around the Tolbooth and Cross as the town has medieval origins and we need to record any finds.
Mr Budge added: “Forres Heritage Trust consider that the historical importance of Nelson’s Tower, the Tolbooth and Mercat Cross, fully justifies its decision to embark on a course to illuminate each building. The lighting will be controlled by sophisticated technology allowing buildings to be illuminated in appropriate colour schemes to reflect such events as Armistice Day, St Andrews Day, Macmillan Cancer, Christmas Day, to name but a few. The Trust feels that illuminating Nelson’s Tower, the Tolbooth and the Mercat Cross throughout the year will develop them into a beacon, advertising their presence to all and will encourage increased visitor numbers.”