Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How about some restoration as well as some demolition of Nairn's historic buildings?

This interesting piece in from a regular Gurnite:

We are all aware how 'Oor Sandy' and Council officals were able to obtain a grant from the Scottish Government's Derelict and Vacant Land Fund (DVLF) to pay for the demolition of the former Free Church/community centre and to subsidise the removal of the Co-op's abandoned filling station.

It is sensible, if sad, to knock down old buildings which are no longer useful or safe. But wouldn't it be good if our Councillors and their officials were equally effective at securing public money to repair and restore some of the historic buildings in Nairn that deserve to be kept? There is a £10 million pot of money now up for grabs under the so-called "CARS" scheme. This has nothing to do with vehicles or traffic. It's the Conservation Areas Regeneration Scheme, administered by Historic Scotland. The fifth bidding round was announced by Fiona Hyslop in February, and the deadline for bids is 31 August.

More details here and in a press report here

It seems that this scheme is not limited to work in existing conservation areas - although Fishertown has that status, so money could be sought to preserve the former Links School. Since 2005, Highland Council has evidently applied for, and got, CARS money for Wick (£1.5 million) and for Dingwall (£420,000). Are they applying for funds this time for Nairn?

After all, there are several buildings in the town which are in need of a bit of TLC. Let's start a list. The former police station/social work buildings are historic stone structures which deserve to be preserved, restored and brought back into use as feature elements in a redesigned town centre. Maybe the former school building nearby, listed because of its Italianate architecture and currently used as Council offices, could be turned into a showpiece building too? Viewfield House, an important part of Nairn's heritage which is owned by the Council and used by the Museum, is in dire need of substantial repairs. Since the CARS money can be made available to local businesses and even for private buildings, why not also seek funding to restore some of the neglected facades of the High Street? The bus station is beyond redemption. But it might be nice to see the roofless wreck of Rosebank Church turned into an attractive and usable building again.

To quote Ms Hyslop's own announcement: "“By restoring our high streets and town centres we are maintaining their distinct identities, improving them for the people who live, shop and work there. It is also providing a boost to local economies; creating work and training opportunities; encouraging tourism and celebrating culture within our communities......Funding can be used for repairs and improvements to private homes and businesses as well as restoring local landmarks to bring them back into use."

Here is a test for the effectiveness of our present and future elected Councillors. Instead of focusing on knocking down and selling off buildings in order to create car parks and clear land for developers, let them show their mettle by ensuring that the Highland Council successfully bids for a significant sum of money to look after and revive some of the decent and attractive buildings which give Nairn its special character.

1 comment:

Tez Watson said...

There's also that lovely red sandstone stable block near the museum currently hidden by the carbuncle bus station. If it could be restored to appropriate public use and revealed to the passers-by on the A96 it would be a real asset to Nairn.