The Town Centre…. and beyond

Working meeting, 17 Feb 2011:

Around 25 local residents and members of NICE met in the Community Centre on Thursday 17 February to discuss progress so far and to decide on future action. Apologies were received from all Nairn councillors and various members of NICE working groups.

  • Membership and Organisation

Mike Barnett reported on the recent Directors’ meeting, which had confirmed the appointment of Iain Fairweather as a Director. OSCR had indicated that the NICE application for charitable status would be approved.  The financial contributions from each of the Nairn Community Councils were welcomed and were being acknowledged.  The only expenditure so far had been on administrative costs such as hire of meeting rooms;  additional resources would be needed if NICE were to decide to take on more project work.  Mike had been in contact with the Ward Manager to explore possible funding sources.

NICE now had approximately 100 members. An email database was almost complete.

Jimmy Ferguson announced that he would be unable to continue for much longer as Acting Chairman, and invited nominations or volunteers to take over the role.

  • Town Centre site:  progress so far

Following the 26 Jan Ward Forum and the 31 Jan working meeting with the Council planners (reported in NICE bulletin of 3 Feb on the website), Shane Rodgers of the Design and Planning working group gave a briefing on the latest versions of the town-centre plans.  The Council had accepted some of NICE’s suggestions for the layout of the town centre site, although there were still differences of view in several areas including for example on how some of the Co-op plot might be developed.  He explained that the Council were unwilling at this stage to incorporate any planning or guidance on the bus station and library sites.  The Council were also reluctant to take on board NICE suggestions for the A96/King Street junctions, or to link this discussion with the plans, being pursued separately, for changes to the route which were to be funded by Sainsburys.  The meeting with Transport Scotland promised by the Council had not yet been arranged.

In the subsequent discussion, members asked about the possible redevelopment of the Regal, stressed the need to maintain adequate parking space in the town centre, sought information about the ownership and future of the bus station, and reiterated the importance of appropriate and sympathetic redevelopment of the entire site which created such a poor first-impression of the town.

[more details of the town centre planning-discussions will be published in a separate bulletin]

  • The way forward:  a new draft Local Plan

Council officials had argued that – while an interim development brief was required as short-term guidance for the Co-op and for any potential developers of the Council-owned town centre site – the overall framework for the development of the town centre would be drawn up within the new Local Plan.  This, the successor to the 2000 Nairnshire Local Plan, would in fact be a Local Plan for the development of the whole of the Inner Moray Firth area over the next ten years.

The draft of this plan is to be prepared during the next few months.  The first step is the “Call For Sites”:  an invitation, published on 1 February, for landowners and developers to suggest areas of land that might be built on, and also for local residents and communities to suggest areas for development and areas which should not be built on or should be protected.

In answer to a question, it was explained that unless there were compelling reasons for change, the new draft Local Plan was unlikely to overturn the existing provisions in previous and current plans for development eg at Sandown or South Nairn, although the Council was already committed – as a separate exercise – to consulting about the redraft of the development brief for the Sandown Common Good land.

The meeting agreed that NICE should consider, and seek local views on, how to respond to this Call for Sites invitation, with the aim of making submissions to the Council about the future development of Nairn and its surrounding area.  The deadline for responses to the Council is 29 April 2011.

  • Next meeting, and other action

The next meeting of NICE will be on Friday 25 Feb from 17.00 to 18.45 in the Community Centre.

[In preparation for that discussion, a separate bulletin will be published shortly on the NICE website setting out some ideas and seeking public views on how to respond to the “Call For Sites” invitation.]

18 Feb 2011

One thought on “The Town Centre…. and beyond

  1. Thanks for the update. 🙂

    I hope this means the future of the old community centre and tourist information centre are not going to be subject to long delays just to agree what the best use of these will be, if included in the Inner Moray Firth plan.

    It would also be nice to know the exact terms the Co-op were offered both buildings – was it simply the case of these being provided without charge, on condition of Co-op increasing local employment by a set figure?

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