Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Some points made at the planning hearing.

There is real shock around town tonight as word spreads that the application has been turned down. A lot of people expected the Deveron application to be approved. Here is an attempt to report some of the points that were raised against the application. As usual the best folk for this type of thing are the Nairnshire squad so order your copy of next Tuesday’s edition now.

After the applicant made their presentation Brian Lynch was the first to speak for the objectors. He made comments about the increase in both the are of housing and the density as opposed to the detail in the local plan. He mentioned five different figures for the numbers of housing that have appeared in recent times. They were 140, 192, 230, 330, 550. He suggested that there had been a lack of transparency in the process. Despite 2 years of discussion the total of houses still stood at 550. He asked for the permission to be withheld until the points in the submission had been properly investigated. He sat down to applause.

John Hart tried to register his concerns over several aspects of the Common Good Land and bemoaned the fact that the Nairn Common Good Fund had not been registered as a charity. He said that he was still waiting on information relating to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Highland Council concerning the Sandown Lands. He was told by Jimmy Gray the chair of the meeting that ownership of the land was not a valid issue at the hearing.

George Asher spoke on the behalf of the Golf Club. Basically he said that building such high density housing so close to an asset bringing in millions of pounds for the town was not a very good idea and the inhabitants of the new homes would use the public footpath across the course in high numbers thus having a devastating effect.

Dick Youngson spoke on the behalf of the Nairnshire Woodlands and Wetlands Association and the Nairn Allotment Society and raised several concise environmental concerns.
Dr Joan Noble raised issues about health and population. She compared how the population of Nairn had grown by 20% over 30 years yet this application would increase it by 15%? She mentioned how the Scottish population had remained stable recently. Gridlock on the A96 was an issue for her especially the deaths from traffic accidents in the area. She thought that Nairn should not have to prostitute itself to raise money for Highland Council.

Alan Farmington raised a few points on the behalf of Cawdor Estates. He raised the very important point that the current access arrangement could not serve as a sole access given that Cawdor were planning a development nearby at Delnies.

Cathy Stafford from Action for Planning Transparency raised a quick, concise point referring to precise minutiae of planning documents. Sorry Cathy that was a bit too quick to record but it certainly impressed the officials and councillors.

Graham Vine raised points about local roads and stated that there had been no local road assessment plan and maintained that it was apparent now that there would be an access from the scheme onto Altonburn Road, a road that was already at capacity and bordered by stone walls. The consequences to cyclists and pedestrians could be lethal when the residents of the new houses would begin to use the road as a rat run.

An Australian married to a Nairn woman (sorry didn’t get your name) mentioned how he had lived in many parts of the world but that the best place he had ever had the privilege of living in and he appealed to the councillors ‘For God’s sake don’t build this crap!’.

Kenneth Mackenzie told the meeting that the A96 was not adequate and that to add 550 houses would compound the problem. The A96 should be addressed before a decision is made on planning. He said that the 3-4 storey buildings would dominate. He said that a decision was being made on the future of Nairn and that during the 19th and 20th century Nairn had been growing as a medium density town with high amenity and the over development of Sandown would be the councillors legacy. He urged that the application be deferred.

John Mackie told the meeting that he was there to represent the man in the street, those folk that had spoken to him about the development. He said that once the public had found out about the density of the development ‘All hell had broken loose’. He cut short his speech stating that others had raised most of the points he was hoping to make and with reference to efforts to initiatives to curb dog poo he urged the meeting to ‘bag it and bin it.’

Sandy Park then spoke briefly and there was a gasp from the public as he recommended refusal. There was some discussion before a vote was taken and Laurie Fraser unsuccessfully tried to raised some points about footpaths on the North side of the A96. Cllr John Holden stated that they were being asked to put a town as big as Kinguisse onto Nairn.

The vote was unanimous and most members of the public then left and emerged into the sunshine outside the community centre to take in the enormity of the common sense decision that had just been made. The people of Nairn had been listened to and their wishes understood and acted upon. It was a great moment.

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