Monday, May 02, 2011

Will Sandown ever, ever go away?

Sandown still hangs like a dark shawdow over a lot of issues in Nairn, maybe it'll take a generation or two before the mess it has seemed to leave in its wake is forgotten. Soon too there will be more consultation on what the next plan for Sandown will be - and more controversy if Highland Council fail to listen to the community?

"Legacy of Sandown?" Thunders this week's Nairnshire: "Was planned development the critical factor being Nairn's extra signals?" They ask. Heavily featured in this week's front page is a section of the Reporter, Ms McNair's, decision on the Sainsbury's development. A very important paragraph indeed it seems, featured recently on the Gurn. You can read it here if you can't wait until tomorrow.
So read the Nairnshire Gurnites, to see how the paragraph in question was debated at the Suburban CC and there's interesting analysis from Iain Bain too in his editorial. He has hard hitting opinions about Transport Scotland seemed to be looking for at both the Sandown and Sainsbury's inquiries. Oor Sandy is quoted and he is adamant that the new signals have nothing to do with Sandown however. All that and much more, including the Single Council for Nairn issue again on page 5. Yours for 40p at a Co-op near you.


nairnbairn said...

It's good that the Nairnshire has picked up on this issue. There are some serious questions to be asked...

As noted in earlier (17 April) discussion on the Gurn,

"What this [Ms McNair's report] makes clear is that Transport Scotland's requirement for the provision of additional traffic lights as part of the Sainsburys deal did not arise from an assessment of the needs or consequences of building the supermarket at Balmakeith.

Transport Scotland appear to have sought to get Sainsburys to pay for the cost of measures designed to cope with the future contingency of a massive (550 houses) development at Sandown.

That would explain why the lights are being put on the Seabank Road and Albert Street junctions - to manage the presumed increase in traffic (from Sandown) trying to get through the West End streets on to the A96.

In effect Ms McNair's report indicates that the Transport Scotland requirement for all these lights was inappropriate and unjustified.

Not only does this suggest that Transport Scotland and the Highland Council were bending the Section 75 planning rules a bit to get Sainsburys to contribute to measures to deal with problems which were not directly attributable to their development. It also indirectly confirms what Transport Scotland and the Council denied at the Sandown enquiry - that a large housing development there would result in a major ratrunning problem through the residential zone of Nairn's West End...

Sandy Park's denial is simply not credible.

Keep the common good said...

The great majority of Nairnites that I speak with would like to see our common good lands at Sandown remain as is, a belt of open land which belongs to all of us, and provides a beautiful vista across the firth

Some of our elected councillors however see such land as a cash opportunity just waiting to be used. Not only will there be money from the sale of the land but also (if sold for housing) an increased population providing more for the council tax coffers

I wonder as to how many people in Nairn want to live in a town that is constantly under threat of large population growth? I suspect that the answer is not many

With the freeze on council tax equalling a cut in spending when you take into account inflation, Highland Council face some very tough monitory decisions, but, is growing Nairn really a long term solution?

Anonymous said...

Questions need to be asked whether this has any implications for the future consideration of any other planning application in the west Nairn area.

The adopted but, as we are constantly being told, now 'old' Nairnshire local plan provides for an amount of accomodation west of Nairn - some 140 units in total I believe - to include both the Sandown AND the Delnies sites. This would equate to something between a 45 and 50 unit allocation for developments at Delnies if memory is correct.

The Delnies application that will soon be considered by counncillors adn this application has some 300 units associated with it I think. Suggest interested nairnites take a look at the application details which I have been informed are still in the council offices there.

Nairnac said...

As the political and bureaucratic fog clears, so it now appears that some fast footwork and a bit of sleight of hand by Transport Scotland has seen them manage to force Sainsburys to underwrite the foisting of this absurd and wholly unnecessary traffic management system onto Nairn.
Since this article appears to confirm that there is absolutely no requirement or justification for the lights (which everyone in Nairn knew anyway), then there is absolutely no reason these damned things should ever be powered up.
Someone from TS needs to come to Nairn and give a public explanation of the justification for this project. Sandy Park should be in a position to arrange this.
In my opinion, the lights should be removed at Transport Scotland’s expense and Transport Scotland should be made to finance something useful for the town to the same value as the stupid project, such as a comprehensive resurfacing programme to address the continual pothole issues.
Career Councillors who aren’t fighting tooth and nail against this stupid imposition should be considering their electorate’s opinions very carefully.

Graisg said...

@ Keep the Common Good:
I agree there are quite a few people that feel like you.
There is of course the small matter of having to find a couple of million to pay off the Community Centre debt but if the people of Nairn want to keep Sandown green then let Highland Council ignore them at their peril.
Perhaps you should get busy writing a letter to the Nairnshire anon and attending Community Council meetings to seek support and perhaps even a campaign group - "Keep Sandown green for Nairn" or something like that?

@ Nairnbairn, If anything is credible or not in all this then surely it is the entire process that has failed us at local and central government level. And just how much exactly do our councillors know about what is going on?
Our elected representitives and officials make decisions on what they know - I beginning to think that the only people that possible know everything about Sandown and Sainsbury's and traffic are the public inquiry reporters. Just to refer to Iain Bain's editorial for a second or two:

"Transport Scotland seems to have rapidly forgotten what it wanted inbetween inquiries. It seems to be incapable of handling a rethink when circumstances change."

Not only does it seem that organisations there to represent our interests might not talk to each other to the best of their abilities but could it be that internally too there are problems. Something for Fergus Ewing to examine perhaps when he gets back in on Friday (plus the list members too).
The only ones that didn't seem to have a real say in all this were the community. The system has failed Nairn badly.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there will be housing at Sandown in the near future, and also at Nairn south.
People come back to live in Nairn,and outsiders want to come and live in Nairn. These people all have families here that they want to live close to.
You cannot stop progress whether you agree with it or not. The fact is housing is needed, where else can we build these houses.?
I just hope that when the lights are up and running that they will let traffic run smoothly. If not we will need more traffic calming for residential areas, some of the speeds that the cars do along the back roads and along past the links is now excessive, we might need to be controled like fishertown at 20 mph all through Nairn

Anonymous said...

Nairn needs more social housing than anything else, housing for families that cannot afford to buy but deserve a decent sized home near good schools

nairnbairn said...

@Graisg - I understand what you're suggesting. But blaming "the system" misses the point.

The point is that the town elects representatives (local and national) to speak for, and look after the community's interests.

As you rightly observe "And just how much exactly do our councillors know about what is going on?
Our elected representatives and officials make decisions on what they know...."

It is painfully obvious that our elected councillors didn't know, didn't notice, or didn't understand, Transport Scotland's recommendations (we still have one claiming the lights are all for pedestrian safety, and another saying 'if you want a supermarket, this is what you get').

It is worth remembering that TS is a technical advisory agency, not a deity. If Nairn's councillors had been paying attention, they could - and should - have queried or challenged the TS technical advice.

Nairnac is right: TS should be called to account and required to justify publicly the nonsense they have brought to this town; and councillors should similarly be answerable for what they have, or have not, done.

Anonymous said...

One thing that seems patently obvious, given some of the issues of late, is that that the current crop of Councillors seem a bit out of touch with planning in general.

We have seen cases where members of the public have shown far more understanding of not just specific planning applications but also the law, policy and guidelines covering the built environment.

Perhaps when the time comes to elect new Councillors we should give some thought to chosing some who do have a better grasp of the situation. The current incumbents are welcome to apply......but I think new blood may be needed.

Any suggestions??????