Plans for a new town on the outskirts of Inverness have been unveiled by council planners.
The new community will be between Inverness (above) and Nairn
Highland Council has drawn up proposals for the new community between Inverness and Nairn at South Dalcross which would house an estimated 10,000 people.
The move is in response to the increasing population of Inverness and may help to boost the future of the Highland economy.
The proposals form part of Highland Council's A96 corridor masterplan.
It identified the need for a supply of land for more than 10,000 new households in the Inverness and Nairn areas.
Land owned by Moray Estates on the south side of the A96 has been earmarked for the new settlement, which could be created to meet housing needs after 2011.
Access to the site would be opened up by the construction of the £4.1m Inverness Airport access road, which began last week.
Plans for a new airport business park in the area are also expected to create up to 5,000 jobs.
Andrew Howard, managing director of Moray Estates, said the new development was being called Castle Stuart, after the name of the estate on which the settlement would be built.
"This is a great opportunity for Inverness and the Highlands area to plan its population growth and it would be extremely good for the economy," he said.
"By planning this in an organised and structured way it allows everyone to plan what the settlement will look like."
A spokesman for Highland Council said: "Inverness is one of the fastest growing areas in Scotland and we want to keep ahead of the game."
He added that in council papers the proposed settlement was being referred to as South Dalcross, but added that a final name had not yet been decided.
Highland Council is also planning the expansion of settlements at Ardersier, Croy, Culloden and Nairn together with various smaller settlements, expected to house a further 2,500 to 3,000 people.
Councillors will be asked on Monday to support the A96 corridor proposals and agree on funding to further examine the plans.