At last Wednesday’s combined CC meeting oor Sandy said his piece and gave those gathered in the Community Centre a brief update on some of the issues that have been to the fore over recent years.
He began by talking about the town centre supermarket issue;” In the year 2000 everyone that was around knew that there was going to be a supermarket in the town centre. That was pushed forward very much by the community, very much pushed forward by the business association, ably led by Sheena Baker and Mike Green. At the time we were getting advice that a supermarket would never fit in the town centre. But we said oh yes it will. So we went forward with that.[...] And I remember saying to Frank Allan, “Oh well, that means we’ll get the Town Centre sorted in a couple of years time.” He said, “5,6 years maybe.” We were stymied by the town centre all these years because there was planning permission for a supermarket on it.”
Sandy went on to list all the difficulties and heartache with the various owners over the years and continued:” We are where we are, just last year the Co-op backed away, the chickened out in having opposition from Sainsbury’s. Then with the help of people in this room and yourselves we got together very quickly, William and others, got very quickly, a town centre development brief which we did within a year. That has now gone out to market.
Back in June we did write to the Co-op asking them what their intentions were with the filling station and the Regal Bar and they wrote and said they were going to put these on the market but they were hoping to give them a lick of paint or whatever. [...] In the middle of July we wrote again and this is a reply from the Co-op:”As I said previously, due to the structure of our business all property must be marketed (this is the council offering to buy the filling station). Agent fees will be minimal if there is no demand, however, we have already had several inquiries therefore at this stage the property is not seen to be a liability which we would sell for a nominal price. (we were prepared to give them a nominal price to tidy it up to make a car-park). If the council are interested in purchasing the site we will listen to any inquiries but for us to sell at a modest value I would need to prove that there was no demand or commercial value.”
[...] In the meantime, As I said, the town centre has been marketed, the Community Centre is obviously still there. It’s been empty for 3 to 4 years now. There is a scheme, which I’m following up and I haven’t shared this with my fellow members here yet and it’s the VDLF.” Sandy then explained the nature of the Scottish Government’s Vacant Derelict Land Fund and how he had instructed officers to follow this up.”What we have to do is to try and get the Community Centre on a reserve list of projects for the Scottish Government and I’m sure with the contacts we’ve got with the Scottish Government I would be reasonably confident that we could do that. If we were able to get it onto the reserve list of projects, this is for demolishing it, because I would think, in my small pea brain, if we got the site demolished and cleared it would be an advantage for developers. Because I think developers coming along just now seeing the cost of developing that, because you’re talking approximately 100-150 thousand.” Sandy went on to state that if a slippage was identified it could be slotted in this financial year if the Scottish Government were in agreement. Hot off the press news from Sandy for the meeting!
Sandy then briefly went on about the Highland wide Development plan and specifically Sandown, saying that an application for 550 houses was rejected and that if the community didn’t want 300 then that could be rejected too. He indicated that we must all work together:
“We have to be realistic, and have a bit of confidence in each of our abilities to deliver something in the town,” he said Shortly after that statement he continued:” Nairn is very much in our hearts. You maybe think you don’t see much of me. I’m in Inverness all the time or I’m galavanting all over the Highlands but I’ve got a lot of really good contacts in Edinburgh and the Scottish Government.”
On the issue of the By-pass Sandy said he would be meeting Keith Brown the minister next week. Sandy then gave the meeting some news on the Bus Station when pressed by Rosemary Young.
“I’ve had two meetings with the owner of the Bus Station and he has assured me a planning application will be in within the next two to three weeks.”