A NICE town centre at last?

Since the NICE meeting on the 12th October, we are pleased report that membership now exceeds 400. Associate membership is proving to be an attractive option for Community Councils and other groups. Auldearn and East Nairnshire Community Councils have joined and it is hoped that others will follow. The Association of Nairn Businesses has also joined as Associates. The Directors are delighted with the response from the community and the support that has been shown.

The old social work building and the site of the old Community Centre are now on the market. The NICE structure offers the Nairn community a real chance to transform the town centre and retain car parking that is vital to support a thriving High St. A Town Square that is attractive and inviting will support jobs and the local economy. The Board have formally submitted a “note of interest” with the vendor and advised them that NICE is engaged with the Community Assets Branch of Scottish Government in the preparation of an application under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to register the right-to-buy under the legislation. However it may be possible to negotiate the sale without resorting to Right to Buy legislation.

Local Councillors have in principle expressed support for some of the NICE initiatives and have advised that funding opportunities are likely to exist under a new Community Challenge Fund. It is the intention of Highland Council to, “work with Community Councils and other community organisations to encourage community empowerment, and will introduce a Community Challenge Fund of £1m of recurring expenditure to support community projects which explore new ways of delivering services at a local level“. Another councillor has expressed a desire to increase the Nairnshire capacity around staff and try and see a return of positions that have trickled away to Inverness in recent years.

NICE invites all residents to support this community effort by becoming members. Sign-up forms can be found on this web site or at the Service Point, Community Centre, Library or in one of the local shops. The goal is to achieve a membership of at least 1400.

NICE – A Political Entity?

It is heartening to hear the generally positive comments from residents about the NICE Vision. We also note suggestions that NICE could eventually become the new burgh council or that by appointing varying proportions of Community Councillors as directors, NICE could better represent the views of the town.

Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise is a registered company limited by guarantee and a registered charity. NICE aims to act as a voice for the community and to channel their views productively. We promote the message that the regeneration of the town is in the hands of our own community and NICE can help it take ownership. Through engagement and consultation we wish to foster civic pride deep in the heart of our community.

NICE is not a political entity and its primary obligation is to act on behalf of its membership, which is open to every resident. Under NICE’s constitution the Board makes director appointments from the membership on the basis of their skills and their desire to work towards fulfilment the objectives of NICE and at each AGM the members have the opportunity to determine director appointments. We fully respect the work of the 3 Community Councils and we have no interest in replacing or setting up new political or local government structures. NICE will seek to work with all who have a desire to improve our community; our economy; housing; tourism and amenities. All residents are invited to become members of NICE so that we can progress the regeneration and improvement of Nairn. We look forward very much to working with residents, local groups and businesses and welcome their input.


A Vision for Nairn

Despite the poor weather and other meetings in the town, there was an excellent turnout to the NICE public presentation of the “Vision for Nairn”. This has been loosely described as a business plan but it is in reality a strategy document that outlines a number of challenges that face the community – along with suggestions for improvement. We are all familiar with the problems facing the town centre and the debate about what should be done with it. There has been controversy over the use and ownership of Common Good land. Is there a better way to use Sandown for the benefit of the community? Strong views have been expressed over the development at the old Bus Station; there are concerns about what happens to the library once the lease expires; could something better be done with Viewfield House?

These and many other issues are addressed in the Strategy document. They are not solutions but purely ideas for consideration by local people; it’s a work in progress. It requires community input and we would value to your comments and ideas. Download the document here.

We set ourselves an ambitious target for membership. Indeed, legislation requires a membership of 10% of the population to exercise Right to Buy. Prior to the meeting we had around 130 members. It is now nudging 300. If you have yet to join, please use the sign-up link to the right.

NICE – by the Community for the Community

The Vision for Nairn presentation will take place at the Community & Arts Centre on 12th October at 7.30pm

Background: Around two years ago a group of residents concerned about town centre development met together to see if they could bring forward imaginative new ideas for the town centre – to make it more attractive, more welcoming and offer more facilities and amenities for local people. Lots of ideas came forward and the group adopted the title of Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise. The outcome of several meetings was a proposed new plan for the town centre. Discussions took place with Highland Council and a public meeting was held in which the NICE proposal was debated alongside that of the Highland Council plans. Continue reading