Sunday, June 01, 2008

Why Spelding supports the Sainsbury's planning application

The Gurn has received this article from Spelding, for further articles and news on the Sainsbury's planning application please read lower posts.
How many businesses within the High Street area would be directly affected by the arrival of Sainsbury’s (or any other large supermarket)? Aren’t they all being hit by the constant competition and ‘leakage’ to various stores within a 10, 16 and 22 miles area anyway? Would it not be better to have the ‘leakage’ on your own doorstep? Who knows, having a larger, big named store might actually reverse the leakage and encourage consumers from Inverness, Forres and Elgin to come to Nairn.

Let’s have a look at the current make-up of the High Street. What does the ‘vitality and viability of Nairn town centre’ consist of, in fact, what the hell does it mean? A quick search at . ' Vitality is a measure of how lively and busy a town centre is and viability is a measure of its capacity to attract ongoing investment, for maintenance, improvement and adaptation to changing needs.’ Another quote from the same site ‘Out-of-Centre locations, for example stand-alone food stores, should be considered only if it can be demonstrated that all town centre, edge of town centre and other commercial centre options have been thoroughly assessed and discounted as unsuitable or unavailable; that development on the scale proposed is appropriate; and that there will be no significant adverse effect on the vitality and viability of existing centres.’

So how is the ‘vitality and viability’ of our town centre? A rough breakdown shows that there are approx 122 retail and business premises within an area starting from Cawdor Road Post Office at the top to Friar Tuck’s Chip shop in Harbour Street, also incorporated are Leopold Street, Church Street and St Ninian’s Road. (Please note this is a very rough analysis and is not meant to be scientific in any way, merely some musings on a dull, overcast Sunday afternoon.) Categorising the premises as follows (again, no scientific basis):

Banks/Finance/Insurance/Estate Agents/Solicitors/Offices/Local Govt 19
Bars/Off Licences 8
Bookies 2
Bridal 2
Butchers 2
Charity Shops 3
Chemists/Pharmacies 2
Clothes Shops 4
Electrical 2
Empty 9
Fruit Shops 2
Gift Shops 7
Hairdresser’s/Barber’s/Beauty Shops 9
Opticians 2
Paper Shops 2
Pet Shops/Services 4
Other* 18
Restaurants/Cafes/Takeaways 19
Supermarkets/Multinationals 6

*Other- consists of a variety of businesses ranging from Tattooist, Taxi’s, Furniture and Carpet, Funeral Directors, etc, etc

How healthy, vital and viable is our town centre when nearly half of it consists of Banks/Finance/Insurance/Estate Agents/Solicitors/Offices/Local Govt Offices, Bars/Off Licences, Bookies, Charity shops, Empty premises or Restaurants/Cafes/Takeaways?

It could also be argued that approx 72 businesses would not be directly affected by a Sainsbury’s (Banks/Finance/Insurance/Estate Agents/Solicitors/Office/Local Govt, Bars/Off Licences, Bookies, Bridal, Chemists/Pharmacies, Hairdresser’s/Barber’s/Beauty Shops, Opticians, Restaurants/Cafes/Takeaways, some Others).

46 Business could find some impact depending on what Sainsbury’s would sell but may well not suffer too much as they are located within the town centre and are used on an everyday basis or are specialist retailers (Clothes Shops, Charity Shops, Electrical, Empty, Gift Shops, Paper Shops, Pet Shops/Services, some Other, some Supermarkets/Multinational).

This leaves approx 9 businesses who may suffer directly a larger impact from Sainsbury’s (Butchers, Fruit Shops, some Other, some Supermarkets/Multinationals), so would Sainsbury’s really have a such an adverse impact on the current ‘vitality and viability’ of Nairn Town centre?

Apparently over 30 objections have been submitted, the majority of which come from existing businesses, but why should local people be held to ransom because of other businesses? Let’s face it, most retailers are in the business of making a profit, they are not charities, they are not in it solely to do the consumer a favour. Competition is an important part of business and the hard facts are that the current retailers within the town centre are not privy to a monopoly. It’s time the people of Nairn had a choice, we’re not some small settlement in the retail hierarchy of Inverness but according to the Nairnshire Local Plan we are a Local Centre.

The Nairnshire Local Plan contains several references to;
‘Reducing dependency on employment outwith the area and creating more locally based jobs would greatly enhance Nairnshire’s prospect economic prospects’
‘economic prospects suggest opportunities in the following sectors…..Retailing: stemming the loss of trade from Nairn;’
‘reveals major opportunities in Nairn for a Supermarket’
‘high levels of commuting and loss of trade threaten to undermine established commercial functions ‘
‘greater quality and choice in shopping’
‘The priorities include…………a new supermarket and specialist town centre retailing’

However, there is also a statement which throws a big, fat bluebottle into the ointment:
‘only one supermarket is required in Nairn, to be provided in the identified location within the plan period and there will be a consequent presumption against development prejudicial to the objective of this policy on either the identified site, or any other edge-of-centre, out-of-centre or out-of-town site in or around Nairn.’ So, in one fell swoop, by including this statement, have I destroyed my reasoning by quoting examples to support another large store in the area, I don’t think so because there is room for negotiation here as, at the very beginning of the Local Plan, it states ‘This considers the period up to 2008,..’.

For at least 5 of the 11 years since 1997 we have been teased by the prospect of a new supermarket on the edge of the town centre: the ‘footprint’ of this development has steadily shrunk from its original size 11 to a possible size 5. We’ve had the promise of Safeway’s and then Morrisions who both fell at the final hurdle and now Somerfield’s who look like they are going the same way .

The Local Plan is a document which began formal commencement in 1997, things have moved on considerably since then. The growth in the population alone surely warrants more than one big, bright, shiny supermarket (which has still to put in an appearance) and the acknowledged ‘leakage’ of the local population to other towns/city would also justify this.

So, it’s high time for a review of how things stand with regards to the Town Centre, and that time should be Tuesday! Time for Nairn to step into the 21st century, even if it is 8 years too late!


Nairn said...

I passed through Forres today. They have a Co-op on the high street, a Tescos on the outskirts of town, and a new Lidl store being built (Out with the high street).
If Nairn councillors and planners keep up their present stance maybe they could look at providing a new bus service to Forres? Forres seems to have a thriving high street compared to Nairn, I wonder why that could be?

jayteescot1 said...

I think it will take a while yet before the Neanderthal Nairn shopkeepers...or should i say STOPkeepers, allow as to emerge from the dark ages into the 21st Century !
Some of those Shopkeepers who also have a vested interest in keeping out competition must surely be guilty of a conflict of interest as well ?
The Nairn consumer should come first and have the same opportunities as people in Forres and Elgin etc.

Graisg said...

It would be interesting to find out if all shops in the town centre are actually against the plan? For example are they all part of the 'Nairn Business Association' that is so vocal in its opposistion.
As Spelding says, shops are about making money (out of us), and yes we are prepared to go along with that to a certain extent but now people want something different.
There lies the conflict of interest, between theirs and ours, but as has been pointed out on the Gurn the Sainsbury's proposal might indeed work out as a good move for Nairn.