Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Nairnbairn gurns about the Sainsbury's proposal

Nairnbairn left a comment on the article 'Shopping in Nairn in the twenties and thirties.' The editor suspects that most Gurnites are supporters of Sainsbury's proposal and we have had very little anti reaction to the Gurn's support of the Balmakeith development, anyway we are very happy to publish Nairnbairn's response as an article in its own right:

I wonder if the Gurn - and other readers - noticed the irony in the juxtaposition (in The Gurn on Sunday) of Hamish's lyrical and evocative description of a Nairn High Street full of shops with character, alongside the Pettifer Estates letter soliciting support for a bunch of edge-of-town warehouse-style retail units?The Ballerina Ballroom of Dreams prompted a brief burst of nostalgia and romance - and maybe the fond hope that the High Street might be resurrected. The Pettifer letter claims that their scheme will attract shoppers who currently go to Forres and Inverness. Hmm. More likely it will drain away from the other shops in town the residual expenditure by local residents. Watsons was only the latest, and won't be the last, to feel the pain.And meanwhile what of the fate of the huge empty spaces in the town centre (bus station, Regal cinema, abandoned filling station, boarded up public buildings, derelict churches, scruffy carparks, etc)? Not sure which is worse: despairing mumbles about inept decision-making and what might have been, or the current shameful and embarrassed silence.Is the Nairn of Dr Grigor's vision, which we perhaps like to think still exists, actually no more than a twitching corpse? If Nairn is to survive as anything other than a dormitory suburb with a few convenience chain-store premises, then the town's planners and decision-makers have to realise that survival depends on sustaining and preserving a civic identity and a range of businesses and facilities which will attract visitors as well as offering quality of life to its residents. And that means reviving and improving the heart of town (High Street, Fishertown and Harbour), whatever else happens at the margins.
Thanks Nairnbairn, The Gurn will shortly be publishing more material that Pettifer have submitted to the Scottish Government in support of their application and yes it is in a way propoganda but a lot of what Pettifer and Sainsbury's have to say is simply an echo of what Nairnites have been pointing out for years. Comments always welcome if anyone feels as strongly as Nairnbairn that the whole thing is a bad idea.

5 comments:

Bill said...

Frankly one does despair! As I mentioned some months ago I suspect that in one way or another one of the few (the 'Ballerina' is undoubtedly another) bits of good news for people in Nairn in recent years, will be thrown off target if this kind of attitude takes hold and the planning officials get their way over the views of elected councillors who do at least seem to have their fingers on the pulse.

It's enough to make one cry - or take to drink.

gurnite said...

I can see where Nairnbairn is coming from. I too was swept away with the Balerina Ballroom cinema, and lament the passing of the shops which Hamish mentions (There are many more as well), oh for the high street to be filled once again with the like, but that is unlikely to happen until the revolution and all supermarkets are disolved and become the property of the people.
As Nairn sprawls itself east (and soon west) with nondescript houses it is difficult to see anything but a suburb town.
Compared to other fishertowns to the east ours has been allowed extensions over the years which would truly knock the socks off our regal architect Charles.
Our new community centre had plans knocked about like a crazed ping pong ball
Tourists have Woolworths in the high street but what else? Feed chips to the gulls at the harbour, walk along the bankie...
We have a beautiful place but no real joined up vision - help!

Graisg said...

As said earlier in the Gurn, an unreliable source stated that the first person through the doors of the new Lidl store in Forres was a shopper from Nairn.

nairnbairn said...

I'm touched that my comment was given such space, and gratified that it has prompted reaction. But I ought to make clear that I'm not agin Sainsburys.

What vexes me is the lack of coherent and imaginative proposals for the town-centre's development needs, which seem to me more urgent. Sainsburys/Pettifer are filling a void, and capitalising on the understandable exasperation of Nairnites deprived of decent shopping facilities. But this shouldn't be a matter of either/or. It's about the priorities set by planners and local authorities. The dismal redevelopment of the harbour area is an illustration of how to get it wrong. Now retail space is the issue. Fine to encourage Sainsburys to come. But do those who set the framework weigh the merits of sustaining and reviving the town centre alongside the arguments for building on a new site?

As gurnite says - we need joined-up vision. But I worry that this may be a debate about the stable door, when the horse has already been allowed to get away.

Graisg said...

Sorry if I misunderstood the central drift of your comments Nairnbairn.
I think a big part of the problem is that Nairn doesn't really have a collective voice. The interests of the Highland council don't always correspond with those of Nairnites - how can that be so when the Highland Council represents the whole of the Highlands and has to divide the cake(s) up between the various areas.
A possible solution to give Nairn more say and a chance to assert its own identity was discussed tonight (Tuesday evening) at a meeting of the Nairn River Community Council)
The Gurn will report on this soon.

Good night all/oidhche mhath dhiubh uile :-)