Thursday, August 06, 2009

Water Lane planning application for Woolworths site will have to be resubmitted under Scottish Government's new planning rules!

Gurnites will remember the details published on the Gurn concerning the proposal for 5 town houses on the rear of Woolworths Nairn. Well alert gurnite Iain noticed a flaw in the report concerning the notice to neighbours. He said in a comment on Sunday evening:
'Did no one tell them that the Area Planning Office at 88 High Street (Barron House) had closed? Or am I missing something? If I am right then a new batch of letters will be required.'
This information was forwarded to Provost Liz who relayed the concern to the appropriate planning officer for his action. The result was that by 9.30 a.m. the next morning, Dave Polson, the local area Planning and Building Standards manager, had agreed with Iain's analyis. He said in an e-mail back to Liz that was copied to a concerned resident:
'The application has arrived in the office, but we do not consider it contains sufficient information. Also, as pointed out, the neighbour notification has not been undertaken correctly and this invalidates the application.
It will be sent back to the agent, who will be asked to re-submit. As and when it is re-submitted, neighbour notification will have to be undertaken by the Council. The responsibility falls to us as of today. Also, we would wish to have the application advertised.'
Well done Highland Council in ensuring fair play to the local residents. The Gurn can also reveal that another resident of Water Lane headed for that closed planning office when served with the neighbour's notice. She found it shut and headed for the Courthouse. The Courthouse staff had no copy of the application and were even unaware of its existence. They pointed her in the direction of Inverness. A worried resident then had to travel through to seek a copy of the detailed plans in Inverness. Concerned community councillors predicted that this might happen when the Nairn planning office closed and it looks like, for this application at least, that fear became a reality. Only time will tell if other Nairn residents will have to suffer the same indignity.
Another interesting fact concerning this application is that it will have to be submitted under the Scottish Government's new planning guidelines. Mr Polson makes reference to this in his e-mail. Now developers have to carry out proper consultation with locals and according to the BBC site:
'The responsibility to notify neighbouring landowners about applications falls on planning authorities, rather than developers. Ministers expect authorities to do this "as soon as possible" after an application is validated, while neighbours now have 21 days, rather than the previous 14, to raise any concerns. '
Full details on these changes over on the BBC webpages.
Water Lane residents are waiting on a new application being submitted. One of them told the Gurn:
'Folk throughout the town should pay attention to this plan. If the like of this gets the go-ahead in Water Lane then the floodgates will be open for anything on any spare bit of ground anywhere in the town.'
More news as it happens gurnites.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps I'm being a little ignorant here, but how does this affect the practical retail value of the old Woolworths?

In other words, will building these properties have a negative impact on the old Woollies building being used for future retail development, not least because of problems with delivery access and warehousing?

Just asking, because my initial suspicion is that someone may be looking to create flats from the old building.


- Brian

nairnbairn said...

This and the preceding blog once again capture both the hope and the despair that so many of us feel about what is happening in Nairn.

Shaun Macdonald's impassioned plea - and the comments it has inspired - show the imagination and the positive thinking that is typical of those many people who want to see Nairn become a better and more attractive place. Such sentiments inspire hope.

Then in the very next blog, we read of the reality. Proof that - as had been predicted - closure of the local planning office has sown confusion among officials (and even developers' agents!) and caused inconvenience to residents. Local concern that this Water Lane proposal may herald similar unwelcome development bids on other "spare land" in future. And a not unreasonable suspicion that yet another High Street landmark (Woolies) might end up as flats.

So hope rapidly turns to despair. While the positive thinkers offer ideas (arts centre, galleries, whatever), the developers are busy trying to exploit the opportunities that arise because of the absence of a coherent plan and vision for the regeneration of Nairn.

What will it take to mobilise the town into taking creative, positive, constructive action to revive the town centre? As Shaun pointed out, some (Book & Arts, Jazz, etc) are doing what they can. But where is the civic leadership which this town needs?

I was reminded of lines from a TS Eliot poem:

"Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow..."

And the title of the poem from which this comes....?

"The Hollow Men".