Your NICE Ideas

If you would like to contribute to the debate, tell us how you’d like to see Nairn developing. What ideas would you like to see the NICE group taking forward?
If you comment please be aware that only the name you use will be displayed. No email addresses will be visible. We’d prefer that you use a real email address and reserve the right not to publish comments if we are denied the option to pursue good ideas with you.

26 thoughts on “Your NICE Ideas

  1. The number of boarded up buildings alongside the A 96 in Nairn including the old Regal cinema and petrol station and other properties make it look like the town has fallen on really bad times and should be passed through by potential visitors (like me) as quickly as possible. I hope that there is an opportunity to turn this eye-sore into an attractive development that would encourage passers by to give Nairn another chance: perhaps to stop and discover what a charming town most of the rest of Nairn actually is. Economic advantages to the town would surely follow.

    I have recently visited Elgin and seen how the town center has been transformed into somewhere I believe people like to visit through the pedestrianisation area and other improvements. Could not something similar be done in Nairn even if on a smaller scale using what is the current major eyesore on east side of King Street? Sure this may take some time. At least in the interim could the derelict buildings not be pulled down and the area landscaped: if only to show potential visitors that the rest of Nairn is not a dump?

    • Hasn’t the pedestrianisation of Elgin combined with out of town developments down on Edgar Road simply killed off Elgin’s city centre. It may be pleasant but there’s not a huge amount of retail activity well not compared with a few years ago – Next and Boots are off the High Street, Woolies has gone of course and the remaining small local shops do not have the “draw” to pull in large number of shoppers when faced with the competition (and free parking) just five minutes drive away. Forres and Nairn probably fare well because they don’t have a “big name” on the High Street just a good selection of specialist local shops and an abundance of free parking.

      My opinion is that free parking is the key to keeping town centres alive, as the supermarkets offer it free. The recent change to Lossie Green in Elgin to a pay and display car park is surely going to be detrimental to the flow of people into the city centre. Towns like Nairn, Forres and Dingwall have to keep the free spaces to attract visitors and shoppers…

  2. After the excellent and most interesting meeting tonight – why don’t we all phone/visit/ask 10 people if they would like to join? The forms I got tonight – I am going to put into envelopes and put through doors directly to ” David and Anne” or “Joe and blogs” etc — why don’t we all do that – phone/ visit/ask/ ?? 10 people each?
    Why did they not all come to the meeting?? They don’t care about Nairn town centre — yet complain — why — maybe personal invitations to next meeting –?
    Why were these people, not there???? They need to be heard!! If too shy to speak — then send emails or speak privately to members/committee!!
    Come on — waken up – the town is YOUR FUTURE!!!

  3. Hello NICE people
    I attended your meeting on Monday last – well done on the amount of work put in in such a short time. A bit too much emphasis on the trunk road issues and a little less on attracting people to Nairn. Without proper attractions the “aspirations” may come to nothing. “Iconic” structures and pleasant approaches are great once people are in the town but what is going to get them here ? I have a few ideas you may want to think about and some thoughts on how to raise the pennies necessary. First I’ll locate your E-mail to forward some letters recently sent to our elected members, most of which fell on both deaf and closed ears. Chat with you soon.

    • David is right.

      Without marketable “curb appeal” and market driven destination attractions, it will be difficult to not only get increasing numbers of visitors to Nairn, BUT to get them to stay overnight and hopefully extend the length of their overnight stays – a main objective of communities aspiring to compete effectively for a share of the year-round visitor market.


      Bennett Brown

  4. A couple of comments to help with the feedback:

    1. The old tourist information building to me represents prime commercial development space for offices. I’ve already been in contact with the HC a few times over the past couple of years, trying to find out the possibility of taking these on. The building has parking spaces, a frontage on the A96 which will help for recognition purposes, and from the outside appears to have a good interior size for this. However, the caution is that it remains uncertain what actual condition the exterior and interior are in, and obviously this will need to be taken into account. Either way, I think the only sane designated development use has to be commercial (offices) and I can’t see any other option making sense, especially if this character building can be refurbished, providing a pleasant presention very much as in character with the town.

    2. The old community centre has been suggested by the HC as having serious structural issues. Considering the current design of the building may not allow for suitable change of use, it may well be a good idea to zone this for demolition and a new building on the site. I think the fact that is it behind the High Street very much puts it into the town’s “Central Business District” and therefore any new development would benefit from allow for shops on a ground floor, with offices for any first and second floors. An additional thought is that because the building should be very close to the Nairn exchange, then there may well be a business argument to set up a leased line directly to the exchange, therefore ensuring the building can provide especially fast broadband services. In which case, rather than it simply being an office building with shops, it could be thought of as a “technology building” with retail on the ground floor. There have previously been plans mooted for a datacentre to be built in Inverness, and with the continuing development of green energy in the Highlands the ability to set up small to medium business with good internet connectivity might offer a competitive advantage for populating the building as opposed to generic offices.

    Another point of note is the warning that even if the two sites mentioned above are zoned for commercial use, it’s worth remembering the potential lessons from the harbour redevelopment – it was before I arrived here, but I’m given the impression it was supposed to offer commercial space, but that it was soon turned over to residential use. Unless I’ve misunderstood that issue, then it would be worth bearing that in mind for the town centre sites.

    Additionally, reference to the local plan would support commercial use for both sites mentioned, as this would encourage employment within Nairn, and help address the problem identified at least in the 1990’s of Nairn serving primarily as a commuter town for Inverness.

    Hope that helps.


  5. Perhaps not really within your remit but it would enhance Nairn’s NICE image why could someone not come up with a workable beach hut scheme with some leased annually by local people (even B&Bs for their guests) and others available on a daily/weekly basis rented from whoever (council? local community group?).

    They are quite rare in Scotland but can be very useful given the changeable weather in Britain – some councils in England rake in a fair income from this source. I would not dare to suggest a location at the moment but thought it worth suggesting the idea.

  6. At last week’s meeting I was very interetested to hear about the Sport’s Club’s plan to turn the old Bus Station into an indoor tennis training facility, which is apparently a sorely needed resource not just in the Highlands but in Scotland. I think having such a facility in Nairn could be a huge attraction with employment & financial benefits & it should bring more people into the town over the quiet months of autumn & winter. Why not make it a high quality indoor facilty for other sports as well – the local Cricket Club has to go to Gordonstoun in the winter. Another option for a site would be the Farmers’ Showfield. I know the Farmers’ Society are looking to development opportunities for the field & many locals do not want to lose this green space, but perhaps a compromise would be to use part of it for this new sport’s facility & keep the rest as green space for the communty.

  7. I am a new-comer to Nairn, attracted to the area because of its location, but also because of its reputation as an area of great community and appreciation of the artist and artisan. This is represented through the re-knowned book festival and former jazz festival. The work at the Cinema of Dreams is still talked about in the Central belt!
    I strongly believe that any community should play to its strengths. I’ve worked with West Kilbride and seen how community regeneration has taken place via its commitment to the the crafters in the village. I have also worked with lots of development trusts, social enterprises and CIC’s – some of whom have taken over buildings and brought with this a new energy and vitality into some of the most down-trodden areas in Scotland.
    As for Nairn – I think we should look at what we do have – the high street may not be the best in the world, but it is tidy, most of the shops are operating, and there is a nice buzz and friendliness. I would agree that we should make more of the tourist market- perhaps my enhancing the parks, thinking about an indoor play area – but what about the needs of the locals? What about a creative space that brings people into the area to work and spend – that gets Nairn on the map as a cultural tourist destination? How about more theatre, dance and music at the Community Arts Centre – there is PAN who can support this.
    I wonder what would happen if there was a full consultation of residents in terms of what they would like to see being developed? It was amazing what came from communities during the land reform and growing community assets stage.
    If everyone pulls together and looks at the buildings and what they would like to have happening inside them, then the offer from the Council could turn from a challenge to real opportunity.
    There is lots of funding out there too – including the recently launched coastal communities fund

    I would be delighted to get involved, but also am aware that I am new to the area, and that some of these conversations will already have happened. Kind regards, and good luck to all of you – Sam

    • Coincidence is a strange thing. I was just last week thinking once more of West Kilbride in the context of Nairn. Since you’ve been here what reaction have you had to the idea?

  8. Some inspirational stories:

    West Kilbride take over church

    West Kilbride’s website (they have recently been recognised, and supported as one of Scotland’s creative places)

    Who won creative places funding (there is still more to be applied for) and what they got it for

    How art can re-invent our towns based on Cumbernauld who did win Carbuncle award!)

    What happened to empty run-down buildings in Maryhill, Glasgow

  9. Hi Simon – I wondered, were you asking what I thought people’s thoughts were to the redevelopment in West kilbride? If this is so, I can say very much that it was positive. People that had lived there all their lives had seen the community dwindling and the town falling down around them. The energy that the craft town development brought was superb. Shop fronts tidy, people visiting and spending money – locals could be proud, once again, of where they lived. West Kilbride’s status increased, people wanted to live there again, families came back……
    A big community consultation exercise was carried out, and I am sure Maggie Brodie who was behind most of the recent developments would happily talk to you about it. I too would be more than happy to talk to anyone about this kind of development and the steps and support that could be secured to make a community vision turn into reality here in Nairn Sam

  10. If you’re looking for good ideas for our town centre, I wonder if you’ve seen the John Gray Centre in Haddington: It brings together the local library and East Lothian’s Museum, Archive and Local History services in one building. As well as books, computers and free wi-fi, it offers a museum, a temporary exhibition gallery, local and family history research facilities and a wide range of activities, including storytelling sessions, art classes, writing workshops, a book group, IT training, archaeology talks and musical events – all in one state-of-the-art facility. I think it would be of benefit to locals and visitors alike if the library and museum in Nairn were brought together in one central, purpose-built ‘heritage hub’. Just a thought!

  11. We received the following comment:
    I was impressed with the recent meeting and the ideas put expressed and would like to put forward some suggestions.

    Inverness has the Floral Hall which is a wonderful resource and enjoyed by many families – especially when the weather is inclement. Elgin’s Cooper Park delights youngsters with their outdoor aviary. As far as I am aware, the nearest Butterfly House is near Edinburgh. I would love to see something like that in Nairn which would provide an attraction to many people all year round and an alternative wet weather facility to the swimming pool. It would also be a good educational resource to youngsters – especially if it was allied with something like a community orchard/ “incredible edible” movement……especially if youngsters live in flats and don’t have access to gardens. Growing up in Nairn was a wonder looking at wildlife, but many areas have been tamed. We need to reconnect with nature and our place within it.

    The elephant in the room which only one person raised at the meeting was the issue of parking. If the vision is realised and attracts investment and people to the area then an underground car park would resolve that problem (as in Carcassone) and be sympathetic to the townscape. I would hope it would incorporate charging points for eco-friendly cars, as the transition to a low carbon economy is progressing. Britain’s infrastructure needs overhauling to achieve that and Nairn could be a beacon in good practice.

    Remaining with the proposed central park area – Often I hear the complaint that there is nothing for the older kids….Health promotion should be encouraged at all ages/abilities and even the elderly still enjoy going on a swing!
    Was it Falkirk that had an outdoor gym for the older folk?

    There used to be table tennis at the Leisure Park years ago – youngsters tell me they don’t have that at the Community Centre any more (apparently they did at the old CC). I am also told that since the amusement arcade in Harbour St closed there is nowhere to play pool other than in licensed premises and that is a concern to them.

    Barron House – If it is already fitted out as offices, could the town not market the building as office suites, to encourage more businesses into the town?

    Somebody mentioned the area behind the Star Garage for affordable housing and I agree that that would be an excellent position. Definitely preferable to the Bus Garages/ Social Work buildings.

    Other things I would like to see – Boating Pond, and an Equestrian Centre (to include riding for the disabled). The Highlands depend on tourism and if youngsters are to get skills in these areas, they need to be accessible and affordable.

    Are there any photographs relating to the training preparation for D-Day on Nairn Beaches? That would be an interesting online archive for many people.

    Observatory for night sky/Hide for wildlife watching (instead of old amusement arcade at the harbour) or incorporate those features into a replacement building which could be a “Grand Design” type building rented out as restaurant. It is such a wonderful outlook crying out for redevelopment…..or demolition before it falls down!

    The Old Jailhouse should be retained as local history……The old printing presses at The Nairnshire Telegraph could also be utilised as a living history museum. I still think the Rosebank Church would be a good position for a library etc. Bus stop directly outside.

    The Council Depot if it was redeveloped into the Butterfly Centre – you could have a walkbridge from the railway station over the road. Visitors from Aberdeen/ Inverness wouldn’t even need a car. Information Boards showing key areas of the town.

    Exciting prospects – let’s hope NICE achieves the 10% soon!

  12. Received from Mary Matheson:
    One of my concerns about Nairn and attracting Tourism is our LACK OF CAR PARKING and I do feel that this needs to be looked at. I quite often find it difficult to find parking at any time of the year in Nairn so obviously at busy times it is often impossible. Visitors to Nairn can be put off by this, a visitor wishes to look around the town and cannot find parking near the town centre as the car park is too small for the size of the town. I think that we need to address this and also have public toilets with an attendant so that people can go into CLEAN, FRESH WELL KEPT TOILETS. Most people would be very willing to pay for the use of such a facility and the money paid could pay for the attendant,this is something that is VERY IMPORTANT and SADLY LACKING IN OUR TOWN but it is important that there is an attendant there as what we offer at present is really not good enough compared with many other towns.

  13. Great to see lots of good ideas coming in from the grassroots.
    Here’s another one –
    Could NICE incorporate Transition Town status for Nairn into its ;vision’ and work plan?

    This would allow access to various climate change/environmental funding streams – and there is much expertise to draw on and established models of best practice close by in Forres and Findhorn as well as throughout Scotland and beyond on eco building and measures to reduce carbon footprint by supporting appropriate behaviour change in practical ways through locally led initiatives.

    A former Nairnite, with experience in community and economic development, I am currently taking a break from my local government job in Edinburgh and considering whether to move back North more permanently. For the past couple of years I have been a ( volunteer) Director of Portobello Transition Town (one of half a dozen local Transition initiatives in Edinburgh ) and notice that the Scottish Transition network of around 90 listed communities includes Forres, Black Isle and Inverness – but not Nairn ( yet.)
    More info on community led transition initiatives is on and , also on
    As NICE Nairn is proposing some 21st century developments to regenerate the ‘dead centre’ of the town, I assume that any buildings, structures or services proposed will be designed to be ‘future proofed’ in terms of energy use, recycling and waste reduction, both during construction and in terms of day to day energy consumption. If sustainability principles are ‘built in’ at the planning stage they can both reduce running costs, and gain positive publicity by reducing the carbon footprint for Nairn.( something all public authorities are already obliged by the Climate Change act to support proactively)
    I’d be happy to share further ideas and suggestions around the Transition Town theme with the NICE board and membership if this is of interest.
    There are many potential avenues to explore( eg community gardening/ local food production, promoting safe cycling and walking/reducing car use, promoting health and wellbeing through outdoor activities, intergenerational work to share traditional skills, local energy generation, shop local campaigns, creating work and showcase space for local businesses ) which go well beyond the physical aspect of the current ‘town centre development’ focus – but bring much potential for local people who support NICE to get more actively involved in owning and co creating what happens in Nairn and to informing the messages and images we communicate to the wider world about the kind of community we want to live in in the future. ( all good for tourism as well as local morale)

    Community Empowerment and Regeneration Bill
    Also ( with my local government policy hat on) as a community development trust I know that NICE, along with other Nairn community groups such as community councils will be invited to inform the Scottish Governments developing ‘Community Empowerment and Regeneration Bill’ likely to pass into public policy over the next couple of years.
    This will be an opportunity for Nairn folk to consider ( based on past local experiences both good and bad) and to ask for the kinds of support, guidance and safeguards ( legislative, financial, professional) they will require from local and national government to enable local people( through trusts and other community business models ) to run community facilities and services in a viable and sustainable way, for the longer term, getting the best from partnership among public, private and voluntary sector stakeholders.
    Happy also to help support this process if my experience in public policy and consultation matters can be put to use in any way.

  14. Nairn is such a lovely town when looking at the beach, the Links, and the golf courses, but very sad in the town center. The old Council building is in such a good spot for passing tourists, and could be used for a family restaurant with a proper play area. Other space could be used for a local craft shops, the tourist office could be included in the space, with displays of the local activities to encourage visitors to stay longer. We have so many Distillers around, space could be used for demonstration sessions, whisky, cheese, wine, cooking and baking sessions. Craft sessions could also be held in the space. Hosting these events gives people another reason to visit. Empty buildings send wrong signals, and we need to keep the town healthy by filling these buildings
    with activities that entertain the whole of the community.

  15. As a Business owner in town, it has become very worrying to see business closing there doors after many years of trading in Nairn. We should be sitting down to put heads together and putting plans together to promote Nairn and Nairn High street.
    With the old community center should be use as Kim Neill has said ,promote the crafts of the town and bring in more people from other towns.
    A soft Play center for kids is much needed in Nairn, as child care goes up more grand parent are looking after the young ones for most or part of the day, and as most of them say, where can we take the Kids in the winter months to let off steam, I think we need to sit down and decide is Nairn going to turn into a ghost town or can we turn it back into a thriving town again .

  16. Just wanted to say well done to everyone involved with NICE for getting things going. I love the ideas and its really inspiring- Nairn is great now but will be even better in the future. I just wanted to say, after a comment about lack of people at public meetings etc…don’t get despondent. There are many reasons people don’t go to meetings other than they don’t care (I care and I haven’t yet been to a meeting): Many are very interested but are just very busy and have many, many other priorities- especially working people bringing up a family and all that it involves. There are others who don’t feel they can contribute anything new but are glad that others are thinking about it. I think you’re doing the right things- keep lots of avenues open for people to get involved, and keep going- it takes time (I meant to look at the website after I spoke to someone in Sainsbury’s and its taken me till now to get round to it.) If ever you want to target families especially, asking the schools/nurseries to put a note in the bag of each child is a very efficient way to do this. Thanks.

  17. Hi I am so keen to see Nairn harness the potential it has and feed it back into the local community. I have been nurturing an idea for some time but require a good size premises preferably either central or high street – the centre would support literacy, storytelling, imagination, and bring a much needed new venture to the high street which in turn would attract more people. Profit to be returned into the community to support further “hubs” for all generations to enjoy. Providing an indoor discover and do area (not soft play or balls!) with reductions for local residents, groups and schools and providing a great place to attract visitors and tourists and also serving the local community. As I am at the beginning of a journey would certainly welcome any information or advice from the members of NICE. Nairn has so much to offer in many respects and yet seems to wobble in targetting other key areas which can help support the community.

  18. It’s nice to see the new parking areas and open and being used – though the one on the site of the old community centre isn’t so easy to access.

    My pointer to NICE – have you considered proposing redeveloping the roadside of the community centre car park to allow for parking for coaches?

    There appears to be space you could use.

    Simply that at present, Coaches can only really park at the beach, and any tourists coming in are just going to hop back on the bus and leave instead of spending money in the town.

    Hence coach parking in the town, and liasing with touring companies to make them aware of this, could help bring extra tourism money directly into the town, instead of it sunbathing and leaving. 🙂

  19. Having lived in Nairn all my life I have seen the town evolve from a holiday destination with a high street full of lovely individual, gift shops and general stores. There was loads of hotels and accommodation available and the town was always well kept and tidy. Then came the oil boom where a lot of these businesses suffered with the exception of a few, at the end of this era Nairn seemed to lose direction and really just sat in limbo. It was then that we should have taken action and made an attempt to give the town some tlc and make positive efforts to attract businesses and put Nairn back on the map as a holiday destination. When I heard about the N.I.C.E campaign I was encouraged and thought that maybe now things would change.

    So far I am a little disappointed, there seems to have been a huge amount of effort expended on the former bus station, the former social work buildings etc, and it has been suggested that substantial sums of money be spent dealing with this issue it being paramount to attracting visitors to Nairn.

    Although I agree that these buildings are an eyesore and need to be dealt with, I would point out that even if these are dealt with and people do stop and wander onto the high street they will not be encouraged to stay or spend because everything looks tired and unkempt.

    (I would have said that Highland Council needs to sell these buildings with some sort of time limit in the contract that stipulates when the building must be dealt with.)

    I think any monies that could be raised would be better used in the promotion of Nairn, we have the most wonderful location as a base for travelling holidays, fantastic beaches, beautiful river walks etc. We need to upgrade the look of the high street and encourage new business to come to Nairn, more events like the street market need to happen and events on the links for kids and adults in the summer months would be an attraction. (I was very disappointed to pick up a copy of the supplement produced for the recent golf championship at Castle Stuart and see that only a couple of Nairn businesses had advertised in it and that Nairn as a town had not been promoted as a place to go and shop/eat/see the sights.)

    I would finally say that I was dismayed to see that there are plans to spend a substantial sum of money on a park in the Tradespark area and I would ask WHY, when we need to attract people to Nairn would this money not be better spent on something central that would benefit all of Nairn for example and indoor bowling alley with some other activities and a social area? Something that could be utilised by families summer or winter and be an attraction?

  20. Are NICE aware that Highland Council are currently marketing the former harbour arcade site for a long lease – with the existing building to be demolished and replaced as a condition ? A new 250sq.m building could be erected on this site for less than £200k, much cheaper than the refurbishment bill for the old social work building. Whilst of course this would not address the problem of the derelict social work building, it has the potential to be developed as an excellent community facility in a prime location for a fraction of the cost. Worth exploring ?

  21. Can Nairn Museum, building owned by HC and in poor condition in some areas, governed by a Board of Directors, funded in part by HC, become part of wider town plan? Reduction of funding may mean the Museum closing in a few years and we cannot lose this valuable resource and tourist attraction.

  22. here’s another NICE idea – this community development trust led project is going from strength to strength in Penicuik. Maybe some lessons to be learned here, ( a fact finding visit ? ) for future Nairn community projects

    Project website is
    crowdfunding campaign is

    This shows the benefit of linking/joining up resources( people, funding, facilities) and engage communities of interest and support( including financial and in kind) from established and emerging local ventures to create new initiatives . A big chunk of public funding also helps!

  23. As a relative newcomer to Nairn, I have only recently become aware of NICE and the BID Initiative. I have read through a lot of reports and comments which have been published over the past few years and I am not encouraged by same. There seems to have been an awful lot of talk and very little action. It appears that this is just another case of Government and Local Authorities “Appearing to do something” to keep the public quiet but in reality nothing is being done. The public is being duped, and in the meantime Nairn continues to deteriorate and become a “hinterland” Politicians and Councillors are transient, they are only there for as long as the voters keep them there so there is no real incentive for them to do anything “real” to help the community.
    The days of the “Local Philanthropist” is over. The only way for anything to get done is for the people to take charge. Direct Action is needed. However the population of Nairn needs to shake off its apathy and “Wake up and smell the Coffee” if anything positive is to take place in Nairn.

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