Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tornagrain torment for Highland Council - a majority dissent but application has to go through

Today at Glenurquhart Road, talk about a cast iron leagacy Gurnites, there was no competent motion that could be found for those that spoke against the application for 4,500 houses at Tornagrain, a proposal  favoured by the former administration and enshrined in the Highland Wide Development plan. The application is also backed up by the findings of a Scottish Goverment Reporter. It looked bullet proof. Try as they might the combined efforts of Cllrs Roddy Balfour, Jim Crawford and Richard Laird could not come up with reasons that would be deemed competent for the formulation of a proposal for refusal. 

It was bizzare and at times the Circusmaster of this surreal event, Jimmy Gray, struggled to keep the proceedings on an even keel. Angry members wanted to know why, after a site visit and two hours of debate they were not allowed to vote yeah or nay on the matter. Why indeed were they there if the application could only be rubberstamped? Nine members (a majority to this observer including Michael Green) then asked to have their dissent recorded. Liz tried to buy some time for those wishing to dissent in asking for an adjournment for further consultation with officers, she was concerned that some new councillors would need more advice in such a situation. Perhaps Jim Crawford and Roddy Balfour, the more experienced hands on deck might have found a way to object with some digging beforehand but it did look as though it was extremely done and dusted no matter what. It was an unsettling experience that left a bad taste. 

If Tornagrain came along today it probably wouldn't go through, as it is everyone is stuck with it, including all the nearby community councils that don't want it and all the locals according to Roddy Balfour.  If time permits we'll examine some of the comments from the dissenters.


APTSec said...

I am sending you the letter I spent some 9 hours working on over the weekend which was then sent to Officers and Elected Members. I have not seen the web cast yet and will have to wait until it reappears on the site no doubt. I cannot comment in any detail until then.

However I am deeply distressed that it appears that no vote could be taken and that councillors were seemingly left with no means of exercising any judgement.

Jim Mackinnon (Chief Planner for Scottish Gov at time) wrote back to me in Nov 2007 when I was expressing numerous concerns regarding the emergence of these proposals for T and the A96 Corridor:

Mrs (my name)

It is a matter of law the planning applications should be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

So anyone taking a decision whether that is a local authority or the Scottish Ministers must look at the development then identify what other considerations are material. These would include Government policy, the views of consultees and communities, master plans and other relevant supplementary planning guidance. It is then for the decision maker to consider the weight to be attached to these various considerations and come to a decision.


So not quite as 'simple' as JM says then with the decision maker having apparently no role in weighting the decision.

Oh and I had been informed by a legal expert that Councillors do not have to follow their own policy, hey ho

I ask myself said...

What is the point of having Councillors?

Anonymous said...

Tell me why wouldn't t they want a new town at tornagrain? How would it affect Nairn, surely better to encourage people to live there rather than overcrowding an already overcrowded Nairn the services here can barely cope.

APTSec said...

There are lots of factors to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not a new town should be built anywhere. If Anon would like to contact the email address given on the APT blog then I can provide information on at least some of the relevant issues.

How would it affect Nairn? I will dig out the links to the reference to Nairn in the application details that I can remember and comment again.

APTSec said...

'Part one'

All the 'New Town' planning application documents can be found at the link below:


The Socio-economic assessment...


...makes several references to Nairn:

...It is estimated that a new secondary school would be viable for the A96 Corridor area by 2031 (800 capacity, with 483 pupils or 60% utilisation). The school will then need to be extended to 1,100 capacity by 2042 or, alternatively, an additional 300 places may be required at Nairn Academy, or Culloden Academy might be extended to circa 1,200 capacity (currently 965). However, this latter option may not be possible.

...It is evident that it would only be necessary to house one GP in Tornagrain up to around 2025. Hence, for the foreseeable future, community health services for Tornagrain residents should largely be provided by Nairn Town and County Hospital and/or Ardersier Medical Practice.

...As the population builds up in Tornagrain, it might be expected that the Nairn Town and County Hospital medical practice would develop outreach or satellite services and the number of GP practices would also grow.

...The newly-configured Nairn Town and County Hospital opened in 2008. A review of the policy documents supporting the case for this new facility indicates that consideration has been given to proposed population expansion in the wider areas and, therefore, the new hospital facilities appear to have been planned with developments such as Tornagrain in mind.

...The new hospital is a new-build facility on the previous Town and County Hospital site and provides a 19-bedded in-patient facility together with a day hospital, accident and emergency, minor injury and outpatient accommodation. A community health service centre provides extensive general medical services, including GP minor injuries; the full range of community nursing services; community mental health services; chiropody; occupational therapy; speech therapy; physiotherapy services; social work services; NHS dental services; and paediatric services.

...In addition to these local services offered at Nairn, specialist services are based in Inverness. The population growth associated with Tornagrain is unlikely to have any significant impact on the capacity of these existing facilities.

...The proposed location of Tornagrain will allow it to benefit from its proximity to Inverness with its regional shopping and commercial facilities, and to a lesser extent Nairn with its district centre facilities. It will be important, however, for Tornagrain to establish and promote itself as a self sustaining retail centre in its own right, providing its community with the necessary shopping and commercial facilities. Tornagrain will operate within the existing network of centres in the area, complementing the existing retail offer.

As always I recommend a reading of the full documentation.

APTSec said...

'part two'

The Report to South Planning Committee for 210812...

...states wrt Nairn:

...Although a significant new settlement, it is not the intention of the proposals to draw trade and investment directly from Inverness and Nairn; rather to complement them. The vision is for a largely self sustaining community. Retail is proposed within the development, but this is unlikely to be of a scale that would present a significant draw given the extent of retail provision in other centres.

...5.10...Secondary provision will be at either Culloden or Nairn in the medium term. Contributions will be required in line with policy.

...8.48 Turning to secondary provision, demand in early phases will be met within the existing secondary schools at Culloden and/or Nairn with appropriate contributions being made to extend capacity there. Beyond Phase 2 development will be dependent upon an education review. This will assess the capacity across the A96 Corridor and determine if and when a new secondary school may be required to be provided within the development.

(As far as I am aware healthcare is not a planning issue so no reference is made in the report that went to committee Tuesday.)