Monday, September 27, 2010

Highland-wide Local Development Plan - Nairn's chance to comment?

We have to confess that the Development Plan has been somewhat to the back of our minds at the Gurn as other subjects have pushed themselves to the fore. The Community certainly has quite a lot on its collective plate at the moment with the Town Centre Plan B and other issues but it is time once again to pay attention to the HwLDP if we are to influence how our community and the region is to grow in the future. The Development Plan will be discussed at the Ward Forum at the Courthouse on Wednesday night (29th) at 7.00 p.m. If you are interested in how Nairn grows in the future why not get along and find out more.
We have a piece in from a regular Gurnite who is more than a little suspicious about Highland Council but then again it was Graham Marsden himself who once said: 'It is very easy to be paranoid about Highland Council.' Here we are often inclined to believe in cock-up rather than conspiracy theories but we freely admit there are many in Gurnshire who are far less charitable when it comes to our local authority. Here's a the contribution we received:
'As if we haven't got enough on our plates with Town Centre, Scotia, and Lodgehill, to name but a few....

Have just spotted that Highland Council has announced the launch of the 10 weeks of public consultation on the substantive draft of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan (what we commented on earlier was the "Main Issues" document which was just a curtain-raiser - this is the real and detailed nitty-gritty).

More consultation - jolly good! The 10 weeks will start from this Friday, 24 Sept, when the document is supposedly available from the Service Point, and as before there will be a string of public forum meetings right around the Highlands until 29 November.

But guess what... the HC is being rather cunning.

They are going to have the Nairn public forum discussion as the very first session, on Wed 29 Sept - a mere three working days after the draft plan becomes available. Which of course means (a) they are giving the absolute minimum of time to interested Nairnites to consider and study the document; and (b) they are putting this to us at almost the same time as we are busy thinking about and looking at the Nairn Town Centre plan.

Very clever, as they presumably think by loading the timetable like this the people of Nairn won't have time or capacity to mobilise comments in time for the forum on the 29th (ie next Wednesday).

And to add insult to injury, they are also intending to hold "surgeries" on the HwLDP, where individuals can make appointments to talk directly to an HC planner. Very thoughtful and generous, eh? Until you notice that the Nairn surgery is to be on 29 November - the very last day of the consultation timetable.

If I were inclined to believe in conspiracy theories, I would suggest that this was a deliberate ploy by Highland Council to make it as difficult as possible for Nairnites to make considered comments on the HwLDP and to have them taken properly into account. But no, surely the Highland Council are (as Shakespeare's Mark Antony said of Caesar's assassins) "all honourable men" and would not play such a trick...... or would they?

And if I were to make a point, it would be... if we had a single united Community Council, we would be better placed to handle this workload and deliver effective feedback on the plans. '
We would like to point out to our contributor that although the Nairn surgery is on the 29th of November the last day of the consulation is billed as the 3rd of December on the HwLDP blog. You can view the plan itself here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suppose this is one of those - damned if you do damned if you don't situations.
For my two pence -
the PLAN will be welcome if we get 1) a bypass; 2) new business and employment opportunities; 3) provides protection for the 'valuable assets' e.g. Town Centre, existing Recreation facilites (Links, River Paths, etc)