Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Charrette final session in the Golf View

Oor Sandy once again introduces Jim MacKinnon, the Chief Planner to the Scottish Government.

It was quite a meeting with Jim answering some awkward questions that led to some lively debate. There were a couple of no-nos from the beginning however. Sandy started: " I think we are all aware that Sandown is Common Good land, we're not going down that road tonight, if there are any issues with common good land we are not discussing any issues anyone may have. There's a meeting on Monday night with the community councillors so we'll be discussing it in full on Monday night. So we will not entertain anything regarding the legalities or otherwise of the Common Good."

Jim stated that he understood that there were anxities about the Common Good: "As the Scottish Government we have no locus with this and from what I've seen from correspondence that has passed my way I guess that this is something that could well end up in court."
Jim outlined the other no-no too: " The other point I made and I made it a month ago in the town house, we're not revisiting the principle of development on Sandown or anything else in this area, that has been established for quite some time and it has been through a development plan examination, the reporter recommended basically endorsement of everything that was in the Highland wide local development plan. Some of you may well disagree with that, well the reporter's recommendations are binding and as I undstand it Stuart (turning to Stuart Black) you'll be taking it to the council for final endorsement as the second local development plan and the most up to date local development plan in Scotland. So revisting some of these debates really isn't on the cards."

The planning high heid yin then went on to open the debate: "What I do want to do tonight is having heard from Tim is really asking two questions. How was it for you? Is this a better way of doing business than the council say here is the plan what do you think of it? Were you able to contribute effectively to the process. Were there barriers that you felt in terms of the timing of events? I know that people were concerned at the last meeting that there wasn't sufficient notice. So I kind of think yes, we need to learn from some of the successes but also maybe we want to learn from things that maybe haven't gone so well too. At the end of the day however inclusive you find the process or however bad, at the end of the day what you will judge this by is the quality of the development that arrives in Sandown. That is the ultimate test."

There then followed a presentation by Tim Stott who showed drawings slightly amended from the previous versions and he made a plea for those present not to try to undo all the work that had gone into the charrette so are and to suggest fine tuning in the future rather than radical change and to put in what everyone could agree on but to leave flexible those areas where was presently no agreement. This observer found one part of what Tim had to say extremely interesting, he spoke on the taboo subject of the common good fund but on in the sense of its relevance to planning. He said, "It's worthwhile that the common good retains an interest, an ongoing interest in the site, we talked about a design code and one way to enforce a design code is the for the landlord if you like, it is far easy to enforce a design code if it is written into the title rather than relying on planning conditions to do that."

Tim also spoke about long leases rather than selling off the entire site. He also suggested what might be a solution for the complaint that local people are not getting their fair share of affordable housing that is built in Nairn. He said, "If you a benevolent local landowner then the Highland small communities housing trust can actually have an allocations policy that favours local people. If you are getting government grant aid for affordable housing then the allocations policy has to be on the basis of need but if you have a benevolent local land owner and a housing trust involved that doesn't rely on government hand-outs then you can alter the allocations policy in favour of local people."

After Tim's presentation Jim made reference to the unsatisfactory situation the community faced with Deveron's application for 550 houses and then opened the meeting to comments and questions. John Hart said that Sandown had been allocated for 100 houses originally to which Jim responded: "I'm always very nervous about the arithmetic of housing supply and demand, what we are trying to create is get quality out of..." He was then interrupted by laughter from a small section of those present. At this point he was pretty firm and told those amused by his comments:

"It's all very well sniggering and all of that, there are some serious issues here, we are trying to transform the planning system, there are more opportunities for public involvement in planning, guaranteed by statute than any other area of public policy and this a genuine attempt by the council to do things differently, and what I want to know is, you may have reservations about the principle of development but that debate has been had, as a way of influencing how this area was developed, do you think this was a good way of going about it."

More later


Anonymous said...

A worrying image - is that the Sword of Damocles hanging over Mr McKinnon's head?

APTSec said...

"I'm always very nervous about the arithmetic of housing supply and demand, what we are trying to create is get quality out of..."

Well one wonders just what the people of Nairn are being consulted on?

The Principle of development on that site has indeed been established, but for far fewer houses originally and with much more green space right next to the town. There are now no numbers set out for the area in the HwLDP and you will not see any reference to density in new local plans.

The changes to the planning system mean that anyone taking part in the planning system has lost the 'right to be heard'. Deveron only just made the deadline to have an Inquiry held.

It may appear that there are more 'opportunities' to engage but if you go to pre-app consultation and there is no onus on the development interest to take on board what you say (and there is not)and the Local Authority can distance themselves from the consultation that a development interest undertakes (which they can and have done) then how does this benefit the community?

Back to Sandown, it seems that certain areas will be for allotments and others for the 'Wetlands'(any idea on the plans as to how much land is to be given for the Wetlands or is that a fluid number?)

If so much has already been decided

There will be development;

Numbers are not an issue to concern yourselves with;

It is likely that you'll get small houses right out of whichever developers pattern book buys the site;

There may be uncertainty as to just how much land is set aside for which purpose?

What were the gains from the charrette process?

Anonymous said...

APTSec obviously decided to deliver his opinion it appears without making the effort to attend either the charrette or last nights open meeting.

Had APTSec done either then he/she would have a better idea of the land proposed to be "set aside" for wetlands etc.It was all well illustrated for all present to see and ask questions if clarification was required on any aspect of the illustrations.

I would ask that we all do remember this is a long term plan that gives good guidance from the community of what they would/wouldn't like to see regarding the future shape of this town and area specifically regarding the long term residential development of the infrastructure and housing.

Stagnation is not a choice and good sensible thought through development of Nairn is, in my mind,more acceptible than "plonking" a new town next to an airport with serviceing hangars very close to the proposed residential development.

Nairn is a wonderful place to live and we should,I believe, be prepared to share it with more people. Those of us already living in Nairnshire are incredibly lucky to live in this wonderful part of the UK, let us not be selfish and help in the long term planning to allow more to do so.

I have always encouraged those of us living here to go along and participate in open meetings, then our views can be aired and openly debated. Often broadening ones thinking.

APTSec said...

Thank you anon but I was hoping for a little more precise comment re the actual area, in figures, set aside for the wetlands.

I heartily agree that Nairnshire is a wonderful place to live, and of course there are many other lovely places to live in Highland as well.

I would invite Anon to pop over to the APT blog where for the last several years anon will note the body of work undertaken by APTSec to raise the profile of participation and community involvement.

Long term planning is important I agree. But anon surely knows that the town being 'plonked' next to an airport is very much part of the same long term planning.

The planning system should favour no one and be fair and just for all. It balances competing and conflicting demands. All those participating should understand the relationship of their participation to the process and be aware of what they can and cannot influence.

I am really not making a case for withholding the beauty of the area from new residents. You cannot say that Nairn has 'stagnated' or will do so in the future (the lovely new community centre, the festivals, shows, Little Theatre...). I think the comments made by the Urban Realm blogger recently, after the Carbuncles, presented Nairn in a very positive light.

You note that:

"I would ask that we all do remember this is a long term plan that gives good guidance from the community of what they would/wouldn't like to see regarding the future shape of this town and area specifically regarding the long term residential development of the infrastructure and housing."

I would feel more comfortable knowing a little more about the specifics so I just wondered if you could tell me how much land is likely to be allocated for each of the purposes.

Oh and another one question; how do you know I was not at any of the sessions or meetings?