It emerged last night at the River Community Council meeting in the Centre that the Bus Station plan for flats and a supermarket could go through on delegated powers without the proposal going before councillors. It seems there would have to be at least five objections submitted before this situation would change. It will be interesting to see if the opposition, and it does exist in some quarters, materialises in written submissions posted or delivered electronically to the planning department. There is also considerable support and many folk in between too so one wonders, given the debate raging around the town, whether this application could have its supporters making submissions?
It was Cllr Leslie Boulton of River that revealed the situation he told the meeting of his concerns:
"There's a shop attached and this euphemism "supermarket" is really nonsense. I think the danger here is if you piecemeal change something which we all think is a great eyesore you are losing sight of the total development within the town centre. Across the road, you see you have dereliction there. I've got great reservations about this but mainly in the context that if ought to be a part of the wider plan for the town centre. Another thing I noticed on the web site - expected decision level is a delegated decision. Does that mean an officer is going to make a decision on which I think is far too big a possibility of a development simply for a delegated decision."
Leslie then made reference to three previous smaller planning applications that had been listed by Cllr Tommy Hogg earlier, including a shed for a buggy which were more suited for delegated decisions. He continued, "This is a town centre development, I think this really is for Community Councillors and Councilors and planners to get together on this."
As we suggested in the opening paragraph it remains to be seen if this application goes through on delegated powers but whether you are for or against or a don't know surely the vast majority of observers would agree that this decision for such a big development is worthy of scrutiny at planning meeting level? That may mean a bus load of councillors coming through from Inverness and then returning to Glenurquhart Road for the decision but at least it would mean there might be a debate at that level that would once again air the views of local people. It would be ideal, of course, if we lived in a world where that decision could be taken in the Courthouse with the four local Highland Councillors and say two reps from each of Nairnshire's community Councils. Maybe that is the sort of world we should demand - if we were to create enough fuss over the coming months and years then, who knows, maybe we could get that!
There was a lot of interesting debate last night and we'll post more of it as and when time allows, the local dead-tree press corps were there too, so there will be articles coming out on Friday and Tuesday in the Courier and Nairnshire perhaps.