Friday, September 18, 2009

Highland wide Local Development Plan‏ - tourism concerns

We've mentioned the ongoing consultation exercise connected with the HWLD a few times on the Gurn and the APT blog and Nairn Matters have written articles too. It is important that we all get involved and make our views know. The Gurn will return to this subject, in the meantime we are reproducing in full a letter Iain Fairweather has sent to local businesses with his concerns from the tourism angle.
Dear Business Owner,

One of the most important documents out for discussion at present is the Highland wide Local Development Plan. In it, Highland Council set out their stall, clearly stating their preferred options for development. The Scottish Government has made certain assumptions and predictions about population growth and Highland Council is tasked with delivering a new infrastructure and extensive new housing developments for the area. The public is invited to make its views known by the 9th November. A meeting will be held in Nairn on the 2nd Oct for open discussion. Let's be clear. If these plans go forward it will bring about one of the biggest changes to the Highland way of life since the Clearances, especially around the Inner Moray Firth.

The expansion of Nairn is an important element of the A96 Corridor Framework. The development of these growth areas are closely tied in to the provision of a much needed bypass of the town. The phasing of development in Nairn will be important. Some land is identified in the current Nairnshire Local Plan for housing development at Lochloy and Sandown, and these are still considered to be the priority areas for development. The land identified for future growth to the west and south of Nairn can however also contribute to meeting housing demand in the area, and this will have to happen in a way which delivers the community facilities and services that Nairn will need in the future. We are working with Transport Scotland on the delivery of the Nairn by-pass, although its delivery is likely to be some years away. It is important that the future development sites in Nairn contribute towards the ultimate delivery of the by-pass.

Download the full PDF document here

I am concerned about some of the assumptions being made for population growth and the use of phrases like "meeting housing demand in the area". Further, it seems that only through the provision of extensive housing can the bypass be delivered. Is that a reasonable trade-off? The proposals look like turning the Inner Moray Firth into another Central belt. Don't know about you, but that's not why I moved here. Above all, the Development Plan takes little account of tourism, a key local industry. That said, it's a well written document that clearly sets out the options. We have been given the chance to contribute to these plans for the future of Nairn. Please make time to do so.




APTSec said...

Excellent post!

There are three topics coming to the fore:

Transport infrastructure;

The Developer Contributions Protocol;

Will Highland continue to provide a quality of life for both the younger and older sections of its population?

I hope to post up some useful information on these topics in the next week.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall reading somewhere that 70% of employment in the Highlands is in the public sector.

In other words, most people are employed in the Highlands just to administrate it!

I'm not sure how reliable a stat that is, but it certainly would explain why the Scottish Government has been trying for some years to especially push private business in Inverness.

And if it is the case, then certainly it is an argument for development of the A96 corridor.

After all, the Highland's population is traditionally a shrinking and aging one, with younger folk moving down to southern Scotland for education and employment.

And that's a situation that needs addressing, because otherwise the Highlands would become an area of shrinking income and rising costs, and that means fewer overall services for everyone.

Developing the A96 corridor certainly makes sense from that perspective - people will come - but I think the single most important point everybody will agree on is that infrastructure needs to be planned for, and planning has to be done intelligently to take account of existing key assets (not least in tourism).

Therefore let development come - let's make the area a thriving heart for the Highlands, increasing employment and education opportunities, and help people not simply live here if they want, but also contribute through the development of small businesses to provide for the increasing population.

But let's not spoil the area with high rises and ill-planned developments while they're at it, and let's not do the typical council strategy of bring people into the area, and worry about providing relative infrastructure and amenities later on.

Nairn is a real jewel in the Highlands - it should form a part of any plan in a way that preserves and expands upon it's assets - rather than just be treated as spare land for new suburbs for Inverness.


- My Nairn

APTSec said...

'Let people come'

We have to consider the reasons why people choose to locate where they do.

How about employment in combination with reasonable housing costs?

How about a clean, safe, caring place to retire to?

How about a highly regarded place to study offering a range of popular courses at a university or good schools?

All the above with wonderful scenery and a temperate pleasant climate - and yes, it is, honestly!

This Proposed Plan will have to consider balancing the needs of all people in all areas as it is a Highland-wide plan.

Where and what kind of employnent will be available?

If people choose to study here; how many students choose to stay and work in the place they go to university? In general terms is the country as a whole creating adequate numbers of 'graduate' jobs? What kinds of employment do we envisage coming to the area?

How affordable will anyone choosing to relocate find property now in comparison with what they could have purchased 10 years ago? Have salary increases kept pace with increases in house prices? Has the provision of low cost rented housing kept pace with the building of open market housing? What size are the housing waiting lists? Have they increased or decreased as more and more housing has been created?

What is the historic trend in house price to income ratios?

The banks have become extremely cautious in their mortgage lending with large deposits and good credit ratings required from borrowers.

As household sizes are decreasing, will we reach a stage where maybe
the majority of us, young or old, are expected to live in small single person dwellings?

What effect will changes in climate have on the land available to grow food? How much land will flood? How much land would need to be used to provide renewable energy sources and what reduction of energy consumption will be needed?

How realistic is it to expect developers, whose main consideration is profit, not to build as many houses on a plot of land as they can? (In our cash strapped society open market housing and ultimately those who purchase it, provides contributions for infrastructure and 'affordable' housing).

Do not forget that the main developments proposed for the A96 Corridor already have planning applications awaiting consideration or appeal.

Nairn is a jewel among jewels in this landscape that is the HIE Area which also includes Moray, Orkney, Shetland, Eilean Siar and Argyll and the Islands. How will the result of increasing the amount of development in one area such as the Inner Moray Firth - of which the Corridor is part - affect the rest of the Highlands and Islands and Moray?

NPF 1, back in 2004, stated that the Highlands needed to develop its economic base since many people do work in the service sector.

How much are banks lending to small businesses now?

Oh, and if the powers that be wanted to put out an advertisement that said:

"Young, fit, strong entrepreneurial people wanted to live in the Highlands"

then they would be in competition with almost every other country in the world, because we are not the only country with an 'ageing' population.

So much to consider, so little time!

Graisg said...

APTsec, this whole development game is based on business as usual as far as I can see from my non-trained viewpoint. Can it ever be business as usual again after the credit crunch (anyone really believe the spin that it's all over now)? You have looked at some disturbing factors on the APT blog that will impact on our economic well-being in the future, especially how the young will fare.
Now why aren't we trying to build more sustainable local communities instead of relying on the big developers to come in and create their vision of our future? The A96 corridor as it is is all about 'big' development. Just how do we effectively use this consultation process to take the agenda back into the hands of the community?
There is a general feeling around Nairn and beyond that things are very wrong indeed and something needs to be done. I feel that people need guidance on how to effectively articulate their concerns.

APTSec said...

We are hoping to arrange a meeting for just those reason. Do you think people would come?

Graisg said...

I may be wrong but I think it might need some work over and above the normal networks. Posters, a few leaflets perhaps even some information on a couple of paste tables in the High Street one day?