Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Carbuncle award morphing into "most dismal town"

The Courier is following up the story now. Already the twittersphere had been spreading the news of Nairn's nomination and now the mainstream media are picking up on the Urban Realm site's latest page. The three final nominations have been decided and they are Nairn, Fort William and Linwood for the Plook on the Plinth award (worst town). The words "worst town" encompass a multitude of sins, yes we have a bit of a mess along the A96 which is worthy of mention but to be nominated as Scotland's "worst town" or as the Courier is now stating "most dismal town" could do a lot of harm in economic terms and also in terms of how we think of ourselves. At the weekend this observer was speaking to someone who thought we had already won the award although he couldn't exactly name it, previous reporting in a tabloid had convinced him that that was the case.

Nairnbairn, who nominated Nairn for the Carbuncle award has his/her thoughts quoted once again in the Courier article:

"Described in Victorian times as ‘the Brighton of the North’, the cumulative effects of decades of poor planning, official indecision, developer greed and bad design have turned Nairn from an attractive seaside resort with interesting architecture and great facilities, into a depressing transit route for visitors with a town centre that is dying," read the nomination.

"The risk is that without some radical and dramatic action soon, this once thriving town will slide gradually into the anonymity of a dormitory suburb on the margins of an ever-expanding Inverness."

There are many that would agree with elements of Nairnbairn's analysis, especially the fear that we might become simply a suburb of Inverness, but there seem to be few people that think it wise to have "gone nuclear" by entering Nairn in the competition.


Iain said...

I have to admit that I was pretty annoyed at nairnbairn when I first heard about the nomination. But, I cannot dispute his/her conclusions. Nairn finds itself in a place it should never have been in and if "going nuclear" is the only way to get something done then so be it.
My own analysis 2-3 years ago offered Nairn a choice - "A jewel in the Highland crown or Brigadoon by 2020?". Guess where we seem to be headed. At that time, I was ridiculed by officials. I still believe decisions have to be made; officials and residents have to find a new way of working; pragmatic planning issues have to be grasped and we have to stop developers setting the agenda for change. We have made some progress but it has been woefully slow and officialdom still fundamentally believes it is right. Not enough of the brave and progressive decisions have been made and Brigadoon beckons.

One thing is true. Winning the award will get us on the map and it may lead to us finally working together to plan and build the kind of town we want. There is so much that is worthy of praise. What praiseworthy award should we aim to win within the next 5 years?

Graisg said...

"A jewel in the Highland crown or Brigadoon by 2020?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Highland Council is not alone in allowing some horrendous developments to be build. It would seem that when just about any developer approaches a council they are welcomed with open arms and given a coach and horses to ride through planning or any atheistic issues with their project. The fear seems to be that any obstruction from a council will mean they go elsewhere. I cannot see this attitude changing in the near future

Jim said...

Dear Anonymous One,

Fair comment, but can you clarify 'atheistic issues'?

You may mean 'aesthetic' (relating to principles of beauty, taste and art)

Or you may be using a word derived from 'atheist' (belief that there is no God)

Quite a difference.

Nairnac said...

Whilst acknowledging that the Carbuncle award is both tongue-in-cheek but at the same time serious, I'm surprised that a single anonymous proposer can get a town shortlisted - unless the proposal was seconded by others (I'm not clear how the whole thing works). How do we know Nairnbairn isn't a prospective developer hoping to pick up a bargain from Highland Council in a firesale if the award garners the amount of publicity which can arise from these things which will go far beyond the regular travellers on the A96 who probably already have a pretty low opinion of the place from seeing the derelict face of Nairn as they crawl through from red light to red light ?
Would I be right in saying John O'Groats won something like this recently - I certainly have that thought in the back of my mind somewhere, along with the thought that the place is a dump not worth visiting, which may be true or false, since I've not been there in donkeys years, but the publicity it received certainly stuck with me.

Nairnac said...

but eventual positive outcome....

Anonymous said...

Menie Estate is rightly there in the worst planning decision awards, I wonder if Nairn could have won a double award had Sandown gone ahead?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Nairnbairn's nomination for the Plook on the Plinth award (worst town) was tongue in cheek but I think it could badly backfire. It gives the impression that Nairn is a dismal town and a dump, it's not. There are a lot worse places to live than here. According to Nairnbairn the town centre is dying, is it? Given the current economic climate things are not too bad with only three empty premises which is far better than many towns. Yes, there are issues and we can't sit on our backsides and let things slide any further but the fallout from this nomination may have a long lasting impact on many people's impressions of the town. I recently had a conversation with a visitor who was staying in the caravan site. She had the feeling that the town centre had gone downhill. When I asked her in what way she then confessed that she hadn't even been into the town centre! Her views came from things she had read in newspapers. This is where the danger lies in using this type of approach to highlight shortcomings, people tend to remember bad things rather than good and there may be far more damage done than good from this nomination. Nairnbairn may have been too smart for his/her own good. As a matter of interest, has anyone heard anything from Nairnbairn since the nomination or are they now keeping their head below the parapet?

Anonymous said...

I’m sorry, Iain, but do you honestly believe that ‘officialdom’ will give a damn about this nomination? Do you think they will be shamed into getting their fingers out and doing anything? Did it help Inverness in any way when it was nominated for a UK Carbuncle award in 2010?

Anonymous said...

I remember in the "Good Old Days" where Nairn High Street had a diverse selection of self owned shops, where you actually did virtually all your shopping at. I even remember being served many a time by Pat Fraser!

While shop units are filled, Nairn residents still feel the need to shop in Tesco/Sainsbury, shop in B&Q, shop in Debenhams, etc.

Anonymous said...

The nomination can do no more harm than the view experienced by the thousands of people who have driven thru Nairn on the A96 on a daily basis and have had the mis-fortune to have suffered the eyesore that is King Street for the last 10 years. Now folk have 10 sets of traffic lights to contend with as well.
If folk are more concerned over a hapenny gong doing the town some harm, think again, the damage has been festering for years.

Nairnite and proud.