Following the NICE public meeting of 15th Dec a letter has been sent to Stuart Black, Director of Planning & Development at Highland Council and copied to our local elected representatives and three community councils.
This issue will form a central part of the discussion at the next Ward Forum in the Court House on 26th January
Extract: “…three clear messages emerged from that meeting.
The first was a reconfirmation of the local view that while there may be a need for
some additional housing in Nairn, it should not be located on this central site, which
should instead deliver a suitable and attractive range of premises and facilities
appropriate to its location at the heart of the town.
The second and very strongly-expressed conclusion was about timing. Residents
were clear that the site was of such importance for the future revival of the town
centre that ample time should be allowed for development of, and consultation about,
the redevelopment options, including the very necessary task of exploring funding
options, on which the Council has a crucial role to play. There was a consensus that despite the past years of delay and indecision – the site is too important to be disposed
of hastily. It was felt that the timescale and disposal plans indicated by the Council
were incompatible with the aim of delivering a well-planned and effective outcome.
Thirdly – and directly linked with the question of timing – was the view that the
future of this particular site should not be considered and decided in isolation or
separately and ahead of the planning for the future of the rest of the town. Para 4.2 of
the existing Draft Development Brief admits explicitly that there is a deliberate
intention to pre-empt the statutory processes of the Local Development Plan and to
have this site-brief considered separately and ahead of that process. At the open
meeting it was argued that the Council should take a holistic approach, and bring
forward draft proposals for consultation which offer a medium and longer-term vision
for the whole of the town centre, including not only the Council-owned land and
property but also the immediately adjacent sites, and which also addresses other
relevant factors such as public transport facilities, future traffic management measures
on the A96, the safeguarding of green space, and similar matters.
This last point has already been recognised to some extent by the Council planners, as
their draft development brief does address some aspects of the possible
redevelopment of adjacent land and premises owned by the Co-op; and it has been
accepted in subsequent informal contacts between NICE and the Highland Council.
Likewise the NICE planning discussions have necessarily addressed, at least in a
preliminary way, some of the planning issues which extend beyond the boundaries of
the Council site.”
The letter ends as follows:
“We do not believe, however, that a rational long-term vision and coherent, integrated
plans can realistically be drawn up in a matter of a few weeks or months, or against an
arbitrary deadline. We therefore hope and believe that you, and Council members,
will respond positively to the three requests above. We would like the Ward Forum
meeting on 26 January to take a considered view of all the issues related to the town
centre, and set out a credible and appropriate framework and timescale – which takes
account of the consultations on the HwLDP and Local Plan – for taking forward the
considerable further work and consultation that such an important task requires.”