Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Spurtle on Sainsbury's

Posted elsewhere as a comment but brings to our attention several important points and thus worthy of top billing:

There is no doubt that the arrival of Sainbury's will do a lot to stem the leakage of shoppers away from the town. If forecasts are correct , it may even attract people from elsewhere, particularly those looking for a change from Asda/Tesco, and those whose first choice grocery shopping , prior to moving into the area, was done at Sainsbury's.

In these circumstances, there is a chance that the High Street may not be affected too badly. With the streetscape scheme and some promotion at the new Sainsbury's store, it may even benefit.

The substantial reduction in floor area of the non-food units is a sensible approach. After all, it was the thought of improved supermarket facilities that got everyone excited, not the prospect of a 'Suite Centre', or a similar aircraft hanger type retail unit on the edge of town.

I hope that the developers follow the recommendations on the details of the site from the reporter, regarding the impact of the development on those living close by. There are considerations to be made in both the layout of the site, the architecture of the buildings and the measures taken to reduce noise and light impact. Those currently celebrating this news should be magnanimous in victory and encourage Sainbury's to genuinely consider the needs of those living close by.

Anyone who has experienced the prospect of an imposing development on their doorstep knows that having the understanding and consideration of others in the community makes a difficult time more bearable (as has been recently experienced at Gurn headquarters I believe).

When it comes to traffic though, I would urge anyone thinking that the town will not be impacted by this new development to spend some time to read either the Scottish Government or DPEA reporters findings, particularly the Conditions/Appendix 1 section.

I have no doubt there is a need for a better supermarket in Nairn but,along with the new Sainsbury's and non –food units , we are going to get four completely new sets of traffic lights, one new roundabout and at least one new pedestrian controlled crossing. All of this new road furniture will be on the A96 itself. There may also be another pedestrian controlled crossing on the A939 Grantown Road. It is mentioned in the report but it may be the details may possibly be contained in the 'green transport plan' that has to be produced.

Now I don’t about anyone else but, if someone said to me –

“ Right, we’ve got a busy wee town, bit of a bottleneck on the A96. Sometime over the next 5-7 years the road through this town is forecast to reach its maximum traffic capacity at peak travel times. So , we’re going to stick in four new traffic lights, a new roundabout and a couple of pedestrian crossings.........................What do you think?..... “

Call me a maverick but I’m prepared to stick my ironic neck out on this one and say “ Fantastic, guaranteed to make the traffic flow so much better.”

The requirement for the traffic lights and other road engineering works has always been there in this application, some folks just didn’t seem to get a grasp of the potential impact though. It might actually be quicker at times for the people of Forres to get to Sainsbury’s at Balmakeith, than the people from the West end of Nairn.

So could it be that, ultimately, the greatest legacy that Sainsbury’s bring to Nairn is not one of an improved range of groceries and Jamie Oliver’s face plastered all over the town but that the need for a bypass is catapulted much nearer the top of Transport Scotland’s agenda.


Thanks Spurtle. I agree that Sainsbury's should do the maximum for the residents nearby including the bund and landscaped barrier and we will be delighted to highlight any outstanding issues the two residential objectors feel they have with the company.

For first-time readers, there has been quite a lot of comment received so far and this can be read on a previous article .


Nairn sin hic said...

yes we'll certainly need a bypass now so folk can avoid the queues for the new Sainsbury's!

growtosow said...

very well made points on this post. and yes sainsbury's! have too think about those around about and i would hope they do this and respect the folk of nairn. who have supported them on this things are now moving in our town and its up to all of us to keep an eye on things and try too get the right balance. and as jamie would say puuka

nairnbairn said...

Very shrewd and sensible comments by Spurtle. Incidentally, what a well-chosen name (for foreign readers, a "spurtle" is an implement used for stirring things... like porridge!).

Surely all will agree on the need to ensure that the new store doesn't impact unfavourably on those living nearby.

The transport question is a bit of a paradox. It's understandable that the planners want Sainsburys to contribute to measures which will mitigate the (increased) flow of traffic through the town. The key question is whether adding more traffic lights and pedestrian crossings will achieve that.

More lights and crossings seem to be the kneejerk reaction of planners, and many members of the public, to a traffic problem. Lights will only help the flow if they are synchronised, timed and sequenced so that through traffic moving at a reasonable speed encounters a series of green lights and keeps going.

This can't be done, as we know, if some of the lights are pedestrian controlled - since the timing of these is random, so guaranteed to be out-of-sync and thus to disrupt the flow.

So why not use some imagination? Synchronise the lights, but separate the pedestrians and the vehicles. What about having the kind of elegant flyover-type foot and cycle bridge that crosses the A96 at the east end of the Forres bypass? Such a bridge could easily be put across from the new Community Centre (where there is already a 'ramp') to the Somerfield filling-station side. And there's room to do something similar by Duncan Drive for the schoolkids, and if needed, a similar footbridge beside the railway bridge by the Grantown turn-off.

Harbour Street/Brae is more tricky: but it ought to be possible to make a pedestrian route from Fishertown to High Street by using the existing riverbank path, with an underpass under the A96 bridge, and then up somewhere by Constabulary Gardens.

These are addressing the symptoms (traffic jams and hazards to pedestrians) rather than the cause (volume of through traffic). But ahead of the long term solution of a bypass, there needs to be some creative thought about how best to tackle the short-term problem. More lights and crossings will not - as Spurtle says - be the answer.