Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday morning: time for the Nice report

Good morning Gurnshire, here's something just in from the NICE press office. Treat yourself to an extra cuppa, sit down and read the NICE report:

The second NICE discussion-meeting took place last night [Thursday 18 Nov] at the Nairn Sailing Club (and the group reiterated their grateful thanks to the Club for making the premises available). The various working groups reported on progress so far, and the group agreed on further action. Among the main points….

· Timetable for consultation extended

The group welcomed Sandy Park’s letter responding to the request for a longer consultation period, and appreciated the Council’s agreement to extend the deadline to 1 February 2011. Members of the group reaffirmed their intention to play a full and constructive part in the proposed design workshop on 22 November. There was a clear feeling that that the process should be driven by the need to achieve a satisfactory and viable plan for the redevelopment of the town centre site.

· Impressive public response so far

NICE has been greatly encouraged by the enthusiastic response from the people of Nairn. The poster campaign by the Ideas Working Group has stimulated interest around the town, and a NICE membership application form (no payment required!) will shortly be available. Already there have been many thoughtful and constructive comments on the new NICE website at (please keep posting your thoughts online). Some local schools have put forward ideas, and the NICE Facebook page has begun to attract followers. A reminder: please put in suggestions and ideas for what you want on this town centre site – either online or via the forms available in many local shops – by 6 December.

· Emerging ideas

Comments on the website reveal a wide range of imaginative ideas for the town centre. At last night’s meeting the NICE Design and Planning Team presented some initial outline suggestions for the site. Key factors in their thinking have been

- providing views and access across the site which draw attention to the Courthouse, attract passing visitors, and encourage people towards the High Street;

- simplifying the existing multitude of entry and exit points on to the main A96 (King Street) trunk road, in order to improve traffic flow and provide better access for all including pedestrians and cyclists to the town centre;

- striking a balance between the provision of parking, the creation of public amenity open space, and the (re)development of buildings to provide the retail, office and possible residential space needed to make the site economically viable;

- adapting and preserving the attractive and sound older buildings which give the area its character;

- proposing alternative options for buses and other public services.

[The Design and Planning Team hope to make some of their suggested plans available online in due course for comment].

· Getting the neighbours involved

Research is continuing on the ownership of, and responsibility for, adjacent sites and properties. It is hoped that not only the Co-op, but also the various other owners of nearby land and property will respond positively to this opportunity to play a constructive role in redeveloping the town centre area for the benefit of all.

· Finding the money – how will all this be paid for?

The Highland Council and some of the blog comments have reminded everyone that in the current difficult financial circumstances there is little if any public funding available to pay for “wish-lists and dreams”. NICE is determined to take a pragmatic approach, but believes that present circumstances offer an opportunity to explore creative solutions to the challenge of realising an affordable and economically viable redevelopment plan. The NICE financing team will be investigating alternative sources of funding for urban regeneration, community initiatives, and project-financing. Some interesting ideas for generating revenue in and from the redevelopment of the site are taking shape (but keen readers will have to wait a little longer, or come to the next NICE meeting, to learn more!).

· Keeping people informed

NICE recognises that there is a need to keep everyone up-to-date about what the group is trying to do, with the aim of encouraging debate and discussion. At the same time the group is aware of the need to respect the confidences of those – whether officials, businesses, or private individuals – who wish to engage in dialogue or correspondence with the group. NICE will therefore continue to make available as much information as possible via its website and through other media; but any formal, personal or commercially sensitive communications with the group will only be made public with the consent of the originator.

19 November 2010

If any Gurnshire residents have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, rants, poetry etc, concerning the future of Nairn Town Centre then why not pop over to NICE and add your musings.