Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Serious concerns at Suburban CC over the Development Plan

We had a piece in from a regular Gurnite expressing concerns over the HWLDP timetable and this was confirmed last night as Dick Youngson held up his copy of the weighty tome that he had only received yesterday morning. The ward forum to discuss the plan is being held in the Courthouse this evening. Doesn’t give you much time to browse the facts and figures does it?
A voice of concern was raised from the public benches that the entire plan still seems to be based on the delusion/illusion of pre credit-crunch projected levels of economic growth and inward migration to the Moray Firth area. Concerns were expressed that all this growth in this area is developer led and to the detriment of the rest of the Highlands. The Suburban CC will be attending the ward Forum this evening (Weds) but will be doing their homework before submitting their thoughts to this stage of the consultation.

Dr Alistair Noble outlined how he would like to see a split on the council between the people that deal with the developers and those that deal with the planning. He went on to say:
"I like the position that this community council has consistently held that there should be no development without infrastructure and the question should now be, is there any money for the infrastructure. If there’s no money for infrastructure then there’s no development."

Alistair is quite right in this observer’s view, how can we realistically allow any serious large-scale development in the ‘Nairn South’ area without a by-pass or adequate sewerage provision? Dr Noble thought that the land-banking by developers was a gamble against the future. He went on:

"We have to plan on some realistic basis that actually makes sense, if planning means anything. If it’s just a developer’s charter then it means absolutely nothing and it would be absolutely crazy, there must be up to 20 maybe 30,000 houses that could be potentially built between Nairn and Inverness which is doubling the size of Inverness. Now I don’t think that is a runner even at the most extreme immigration scenario. It’s certainly not realistic on the former projections of the Scottish population and its ever ageing population. So we would end up with a wee bit in this field and a wee bit in that field and a wee bit in this field and just a mess. Surely if nothing else that is something that planning is meant to be there to make sure doesn’t happen."

We suspect that many others in Nairn and beyond will be experiencing similar worries over the scale of development proposed in this plan and will be wishing to take to task its fundamental assumptions.
The Highland Wide Development Plan – keep your eye on the ball Gurnites.

1 comment:

Archie Tect said...

Well, the Ward Forum at least revealed what Council officials think consultation on the HwLDP consists of...and it certainly isn't a two-way dialogue!

First, a Powerpoint presentation telling the audience that the planners have taken on board all the comments made by the public on the Main Issues Report. Yeah right! Odd, then, how little the latest draft plan differs from the earlier version.

Then, short questions from the audience on familiar and predictable points of detail, which led to long explanatory responses.

First up: how many houses, and why don't the figures add up? Answer: the figures are indicative, estimates, aspirational... (Does that sound familiar?)

Next: why build on prime agricultural land at Broadley/Balblair? Answer: because the plan says so!

Best of all - what about increased Cawdor Road traffic under the railway bridge? The brilliant solution proposed ..... make it narrower, as that will slow the traffic down and protect pedestrians (Yeah, right!). As a member of the public pointed out, if you create worse bottlenecks, you create more back-road rat-runs.

All good entertaining stuff. The meeting was even told that yes, the Council had a vision and a plan for the regeneration of the whole of Nairn town centre. What was it? Answer: well, we plan housing on the King Street site, and we have the Streetscape. And, um, that's it, folks.

After this, the lack of further audience questions was perhaps unsurprising. But when a member of the public sought to offer comments on the Plan, this threw the top table into a tizzy. Comments on the plan were certainly not welcome at a public consultation meeting! Any comments would have to be submitted in writing (it's so much easier then, y'see, to file them away in the WPB without other people noticing). If comments were allowed, then we might (shock, horror!) have a discussion, or even a debate.

And who knows where that might lead?