Saturday, June 06, 2020

"For the provision of only 15 parking spaces, the demolition of this group of buildings is not only a significant loss architecturally but also a significant loss to Nairn's history and character." Highland Council department criticises King Street Flats/CAB plans

Below is the text of a document from the Highland Council's own "Historic Environment Team" criticising it's own organisation's plans to demolish the King Street buildings and build flats. This submission is available on the Highland Council's e-planning site with other comments from individuals and organisations here. 

What is remarkable about this comment from within the Highland Council apparatus is how it it mirrors a huge amount of the concerns reflected in submissions from Nairn residents and organisations. Here it is:
"The proposal is for the erection of 12 flats on an area currently used as car parking, and the demolition of a group of traditional stone-built Victorian buildings (former council offices) to provide 15 parking spaces for the development.

New development

The proposed development is located to the west of 4 and 6 Courthouse Lane, a single storey Italianate Category B listed building. The building was once dominated and overshadowed by the large and featureless 2-storey rear extension to the free church. When the church was demolished it opened up views of the listed building which not only significantly enhanced its setting but also increased its prominence and presence within the wider townscape. Although the proposed development is located slightly to the north of the church, and the impact will not be as pronounced as previously, it will nonetheless reinstate a significant solid mass to the north-west of the listed building, partially obscuring the building from King Street and isolating the building once more from its wider context. 


In order to fully understand the impact, or lack thereof, to the listed building It would be useful to see visualisations of the proposed development within its wider context, including how it relates to the listed building.

Demolition of existing buildings
62 King Street is composed of four buildings in a U-shape with a central courtyard. All are of stone construction with slate roofs with wide coped end stacks. They likely date to around the early to mid-19th century, but could be earlier and are unlikely to all be contemporary; the plainer 2-storey building to the left of the two facing King Street for example appears to be earlier in date to the more finely detailed 1 ¾ building adjacent, with its canted bay and attractive stone dormers. There is a single storey wing to the north and a public toilet block forms the east wall. Although all buildings are currently boarded up and unused, they have a significant street presence and could make a very positive contribution to Nairn.

Although the buildings are not listed or in a conservation area, they are quality stone buildings with some fine architectural detailing. They are prominently sited on one of the Nairn's main thoroughfares which, over the last 50-60 years has lost most of its traditional and characterful buildings, including the free church once located on the site of the proposed flats, primarily to car parks or poor quality modern development. It would seem a retrograde step to demolish what appears to be a perfectly functional group of historic buildings of considerable character and townscape value to provide 15 compensatory parking spaces for the new development. The existing buildings not only have considerable embodied energy but could also accommodate multiple additional housing units; I would want to see much more detailed consideration given to how the existing asset could be better and more sustainably utilised. Additionally, given that this is town centre development, that the proposed flats are located in an area already largely dominated by car parks and that Nairn has good public transport connections by road and rail, are there no other options available to the applicant to deliver 15 parking spaces that do not require the demolition of this group of historic buildings?

For the provision of only 15 parking spaces, the demolition of this group of buildings is not only a significant loss architecturally but also a significant loss to Nairn's history and character. In both conservation and sustainability terms I am unable to support this part of the application without further justification and evidence that demonstrates that there is no other option and no other viable solution. Therefore the Historic Environment Team objects to the proposal.

The proposal is contrary to Historic Environment Policy for Scotland, specifically policies for Managing Change (HEP2 and HEP4) - happy to expand on this if required. Furthermore, the proposal does not accord with Policy 57 of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan which requires the Council to judge proposals in terms of their impact upon the natural, built and cultural heritage. As an application relating to an unlisted building listed on the Highland Historic Environment Record (previously Sites and Monuments Record), Policy 57.1 states that developments are suitable where it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that they will not have an unacceptable impact on the protected amenity and heritage resource. In this case the unjustified demolition of a good quality and attractive grouping of Victorian buildings and consequent negative impact to the wider townscape for the purposes of providing additional car parking is not considered to be acceptable."

Friday, June 05, 2020

Nairn Youth continue their Black Lives Matter protest

One of the young people at the demonstration told the Gurn that they hope to continue their socially distanced protest for as long as they can beginning at 1pm each day and all are welcome. 



Police in Nairn are appealing for information following two males causing disorder on Maggot Road, Nairn around midnight on Thursday, 4th June.

Police in Nairn are appealing for information following two males causing disorder on Maggot Road, Nairn.

At around midnight on Thursday, 4 June 2020, on Maggot Road in Nairn, between Parkdean Caravan Park and Riverside Court, two males approached a passing vehicle and shouted and swore at the driver which casued him fear and alarm. The driver of the vehicle had to reverse down the road, turn and make his way back towards Parkdean Caravan Park due to the behaviour of these two males.

The first male is described as being approximately 50-60 years old, heavy build, with a dark beard, dark hair and wearing dark clothing.
The second male is described as being approximately 40-50 years old, with short hair or a bald head, wearing blue jeans and a dark jacket.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101, quoting incident number 0006 04/06/20

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Gurn twitter account

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days and you can scroll down the wee twitter box on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Highlands not yet back open for visitors says Finnie

Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands has welcomed the First Minister’s announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown, but warned that for now the Highlands must remain closed to visitors.

The Scottish Government has signalled its intention to begin a phased end to lockdown restrictions on the 28th May, but restrictions on travel, tourism and hospitality businesses are likely to remain for sometimes to come.

The Green MSP has previously issued calls for short-term let operators throughout the Highlands to stop taking bookings throughout the crisis and for people with second homes in the region to stay away for now.

Mr Finnie said: “Today’s announcement from the First Minister provides some light at the end of the tunnel but it’s important to remember that restrictions remain in place and won’t be completely lifted for some time to come. The risk of overwhelming health services in remote and rural communities throughout the Highlands remains very real and would be exacerbated by an influx of tourism from the rest of the country. I would therefore implore those with second properties to please stay away until we can be sure the threat from this deadly virus has passed.”

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Highland Council proposes network of safe walking and cycling routes in response to Coronavirus pandemic - consultation for communities

A Highland Council press release reads:

The Highland Council and NHS Highland have submitted an ambitious bid to the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund seeking support to deliver rapid active travel interventions. If successful, towns across Highland and the city of Inverness will see a roll-out of temporary walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure over the coming weeks and months. The measures will include footpath widening, temporary bike lanes and other works that seek to ensure people can walk, wheel and cycle safely on essential journeys and taking daily exercise.

By delivering safe active travel connections across settlements to link major healthcare facilities and other destinations, the proposals aim to maximise opportunities for social distancing. Importantly they will also provide a necessary springboard for town and city centre recovery and regeneration as lockdown measures are eased and places need to be adapted to be safe for work, business and leisure.

Whilst a rapid programme of work has been undertaken to submit the initial funding bid, the Council considers this as only the start of the conversation and will continue to review, monitor and evaluate schemes and proposals as they emerge.

Communities, businesses and other stakeholders are being encouraged by the Council to get involved. To ensure the council responds appropriately it has set up a consultation (https://consult.highland.gov.uk/kse/ (external link)) so that people can share their views on the proposed interventions now and as they are implemented. This will enable Highland Council to maximise the impact of measures and respond to the evolving needs of our communities as the current pandemic situation changes.

You can read the full press release here

We had a quick look at the consultation documentation for what is proposed for "Nairn Interventions" and it's a bit minimalist really but as they say above "the Council considers this as only the start of the conversation". Picture from that part of the webpage below. You can participate here. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

River CC online meeting - lots of ups and downs tonight

A lot of disagreement at the latest online meeting of Nairn River Community Council tonight.  It is hard to see how the organisation can effectively proceed with the present fault lines that were apparent tonight. It was quite extraordinary really, this observer is quite sad after witnessing proceedings this evening.

We would anticipate a full report perhaps in next week's edition of the Nairnshire Telegraph.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Council support to families in time of need "Help is at hand for bereaved families in Highland who may find the unexpected cost of funerals out of their reach during the COVID-19 pandemic"

Highland Council press release:

Help is at hand for bereaved families in Highland who may find the unexpected cost of funerals out of their reach during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Highland Council has provided funeral directors in the region with information leaflets to ensure that they are aware of the financial support that is available to relatives for some funeral costs in specific circumstances. Depending on the individual circumstances of bereaving families, help may be available through the ‘Bereavement Support Payment’ and ‘Funeral Support Payment’.

Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Committee Chair, Cllr Linda Munro said: “The Council is acutely aware of the unexpected pain and hardship that the sudden loss of a loved one can cause for surviving relatives and the financial hardship this can cause to surviving relatives especially where the deceased was the main source of income in their home. That is why we are keen to share this information about support that is available.”

To help those most in need at this difficult time, the Council’s Welfare Support Team can assist eligible families to apply for help with funeral costs and to claim all entitlements that may be due because of such a significant change within their home.

There may also be additional benefits and help available on an ongoing basis to help with living costs. For example, a 25% discount from the council tax bill may be available together with a further reduction from the means-tested Council Tax Reduction scheme. Furthermore, some households may be entitled to Pension Credit to top-up their state pension on a weekly basis.

The support is free and confidential, and the Welfare Support Team can be contacted by emailing: welfare.support@highland.gov.uk or by phoning 0800 090 1004. 

Contact can also be made by completing a secure online form at www.highland.gov.uk/welfaresupport

"Nairn councillor Tom Heggie called Parkdean irresponsible and said he was writing to tourism secretary Fergus Ewing to ask for his intervention."

More on the Press and Journal website:

Outrage as national caravan operator offers Highland bookings from May 16

Monday, May 04, 2020

Nairn River Community Council online meeting Tuesday 12th May 7.30 pm - public to be invited

The Gurn understands that Nairn River Community Council hope to have a mechanism in place to allow members of the public to attend their online meeting  (Tuesday May 12th). An unreliable source close to senior NRCC movers and shakers contacted the Gurn with this information earlier today. 

Details of how to join the meeting should appear on the NRCC site here soon.