Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Social work building: “It belongs to the community not NICE!”

It was just an item under ACOB at the River Community Council monthly meeting yesterday (Wednesday) in the URC Church hall but it could have a major impact on the relationship between the CC and the organisation NICE which has a set of ideas for the town centre.  NICE is  a campaign group that has over a thousand members and this observer imagines that many of them will find the following uncomfortable reading. 

Mike Henderson indicated he wished to make a comment about the old Social Work buildings and the Chair, Tommy Hogg, allowed him to speak. Mike said:

“I know what NICE have come up with but we are in the realms just now of this government introducing this bedroom tax. Has it ever been considered making it into one bedroom units? Which is definitely lacking not just in Nairn but all over. There’s people crying out for 1 bedroom units. Is there any way? Well, NICE have offered them a pound for the building, could we offer the them two pounds?”

Tommy then pulled no punches: “Well I think that would be a good idea. My own personal view on the whole thing is selling it for a pound…to me that is just …I mean it belongs to the community not NICE. This buying it for a pound and then going to do this and set up…I just cannot get my head round it. Surely there is another way round this.”

Murd then made an intervention: “At the NICE meeting, what they said there was that there’s money out there. They are after a big grant from somewhere or other but they’ve got to own the property. That is why they are wanting to buy it off the Council for a pound and then they can say: “we’ve got the property, can we get fifty thousand or whatever?” It is to do what they want to do.”

Murd then continued with a warning for the River folkies; “Apart from that I said to you to keep an eye on NICE because they are coming up with ideas that affect your area. They’re wanting to do away with the bus station. The want to put in a huge roundabout opposite Viewfield. You really have to keep an eye on what NICE are doing.”

Tommy then told Mike that as far as he was aware the Council had done a consultation and had the building surveyed and as far as he was aware they came up with the suggestion that it wasn’t suitable for housing. He commented: “How this came about I don’t know, I never actually saw it but I believe that was their comments, it wasn’t suitable for housing.”

The Chair then asked Murd: “When the police station was there did the police not use the rest of that for accommodation?”

Murd replied, “Yes, it was police houses.”

 Tommy then said: “So why can’t they convert it back again to houses?”


wheres ma bush said...

You've got to love Nairn CC.

You know, for a small town there are far too many people with big personalities wanting their way.

Why don't we just leave the building as it is, it didn't do the bus station, the regal or the church any harm did it?

As an incomer, I can't believe there are so many CC's for such a small place.

Scrap them all and have 1, there is your solution.

Failing that, I might see if I can set one up to manage my back garden.

Bm said...

nice and the cc, just a bunch of idiots

Spurtle said...

What a world of visionaries we live in, at times.

The former Social work building has been empty for years and I can't remember reading about plans for anyone other than NICE having made serious attempts to bring it back into use.

Meanwhile, Murd's concerns about the big roundabout and the bus station appear to be based around one of the original concept drawings, which included all kinds of impossible or unlikely schemes, mainly because it is a 'concept' drawing. There is more chance of Wee Eck joining the Labour party than that roundabout ever being built.

The bottom line here seems to be some kind of fear that another body or agency is actually threatening to do something that may actually be positive and good for the town, much to the chagrin of those in certain quarters.

I don't agree with everything that NICE have done so far, or the way that they have done it or some of the faces involved.......but at least there is a valid proposal to develop some empty buildings for the good of the town and retain ownership of them for the people of Nairn. The proposed use would see employment opportunities created right in the heart of the town centre, and how many recent housing developments can claim that as a long term benefit?

Ultimately we should be looking for dynamism from government, both local and regional, in driving this sort of project forward but I’ve not seen much evidence of it.

In this case though, at least a dialogue has been established with the Highland Council that could potentially see the old Social Work building become the centrepiece or further redevelopment in the town centre. Some of those developments would no doubt include housing - in fact there are funds available now to bring vacant office or unused first floor areas of retail premises back into use for accommodation, utilising buildings much better suited to the needs and expectations of their likely occupiers.

The proposals for the Social Work building are obviously sticking in some people’s crops but the idea of a gateway centre, incorporating a tourism hub, exhibition and office space, seems like a well considered solution to finding a new use for a building that otherwise finds itself simply ‘out of time’.

It would be a terrible irony if the members of River CC ended up being the weak link in the chain.

What a poison legacy that would be.

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please do not turn this building into housing. This is part of the town centre, if this becomes housing then town centre space will be lost. Make it a gateway into the rest of the town centre.

GetReal said...

Can't believe River CC are so negative about NICE. They have had the chance to do something about this building and done nothing. Just sour grapes I suspect.
Tommy and Mike appear to be ignoring a survey done by NICE that shows housing on this site is not a preferred option by the people of Nairn.
About time they put personal opinions of the people involved in NICE (and the other Community Councils) aside and carried out the wishes of the people of Nairn.
Again one community council may have helped here as a broader view of elected Community Councillors may have stopped this pettiness. Also NICE wouldn't have been needed to put a rocket up the proverbial.

I dreamed a dream said...

It would be nice if the River CC actually came out with an original idea instead of trying to hijack or criticise other peoples ideas.

Too many people with their own agendas.

Just imagine what could happen if they all worked together for the good of the town.

Now that's a novel concept!

Anonymous said...

River cc need to get the chip off their shoulder and get behind NICE, I don't agree with everything they're doing but at least they're doing something positive for the town.

Concerned about accountability said...

River CC are by no means perfect but at least they hold monthly meetings open to the public and publish their minutes on line.
I have been to the NICE website and can only find minutes for 2011.

Ghaire Mi said...

Tommy & Mike what a brilliant comedy act, The Nairn Book & Arts Festival should book them, it would be a sell out show featuring Mr Hogg who quickly builds the captive audience into hysterical laughter, & not forgetting Mr Henderson who drives the crowds wild with his amusing funny ditties, It would be NICE to see them both on the Nairn Community Stage at festival time entertaining the punters who would be rolling in the isles, they say laughter is the best medicine the NHS should sign up the Tommy & Mike right now !!!!!

MURD said...

Hi Spurtle it might just be just a concept that I cant grasp but it was presented at the last public meeting N.I.C.E HELD and I voiced my opinion at that meeting if were you there?? You would of heard me say that the roundabout was on ground that belongs to the CO-CP AND THERE IS STILL FLUE TANKS UNDER THE GROUND.
But what is the point in showing old drawings lets see the new ones and I can give my option on them also
As for the old {POLICE]station there was at least three families lived there and we need homes Mike is right rather than a new restaurant and a home for exotic animals

people first said...

With the falling foot fall on the High Street there is every chance that we will see several buildings that are currently run as shops being converted for residential use.

The old social work building or indeed the bus garage my not be the ideal sites for residential use, and might not fit in with a certain vision of Nairn, but if you're homeless or currently seeking somewhere better to live I bet there's many folk that would be very grateful for the opportunity to live at either place.

Let's have some reality here for Nairn, or so we have too many PM (David Cameron) like people who are too far removed from the ordinary person to realise the desperate need for more housing?

Some society we have whereby some folk have to go without descent housing and sufficient food

Nairn is paradise compared to many places, but lets not forget those who are not so well off when it comes to the future use of the old social work building.

Spurtle said...

There has to be a balance between building or converting property for housing, retail, office or community use.

Nairn is a good place to live and there would be demand , both internally and externally, for any amount of extra housing. If flats and houses were built, they will be occupied but, without some thought as to the need for other types of building, where will the town end up?

Ultimately , it would end up as all houses. No shops, no buildings for communiity ,according to some recent comments, housing must take priority.

Where does that leave us though? If we pursue a policy of more housing at any cost, then the town will slowly change to being somewhere that no one really 'wants' to live, as there'll be nowhere near the quality of life and environment we all enjoy now.

Houses are important and , of course, providing for the needs of those seeking accomodation is a key part of modern planning ...but there must be scope for development and redevelopment of buildings designed for other uses.

On balance, I think the proposals for the Social Work building have merit and , if implemented properly, we could have a building that everyone could be proud of.

The headlong rush towards we've seen over recent years to try to slake the seemingly unquenchable thirst for high density accomodation in Nairn has resulted in some truly awful examples of what might be laughingly called 'modern planning'.

There are those in town who can see what the Social Work building could and should be; a centerpiece, a hub, an employment opportunity , a flagship piece of modern redevelopment, and there are those who, for one reason or another, can't.


The Social Work building as it is referred to was built as A police station with housing attached and so why covert it into something else when all that is required is some upgrading to homes for these who need them we NEED houses in Nairn not demolish them or is it the fact there is no money to be made out of that.
We need a another restaurant like a hole in the head we only have about 8 or 9 on the high street comparer to dozens waiting to get housed.

flat liner said...

In an ideal world Spurtle is right, we should have a balance of building usage, and a High St containing the butcher, the baker, etc, but we don't, or rather we no longer do.

Retail has changed for the foreseeable future with the result that many High streets have many with empty or boarded up premises.

Nairn has been lucky so far but I fear in the next few months we will see vacant shop fronts. Will they be left empty in the hope that we'll all flock to the High St once again, or will owners look to repurpose the buildings? It's going to be the latter as empty buildings cost rather than accrue money. The most obvious use is going to be to try and change their status and use to that of residential.

I fear Spurtle's 'balance' will be gone, and I don't suppose this fits in with the NICE plans for the town, but without shoppers there just aren't going to be shops

APTSec said...

Readers interested in the Government's future proposals for policy regarding 'TOWN CENTRES' will be keen to read paragraphs 54 to 67 at the link below;

NICE and the Nairn CCs may well feel the need to respond to the detail of the proposals.

(Link is to the Draft SPP public consultation:
The draft Scottish Planning Policy was published on Tuesday April 30, 2013. This is followed by a 12-week period of public consultation, ending on Tuesday July 23, 2013.)

Graisg said...

@Beefcake You'll have to do better than that. Can you give specifics please to support your allegation/assertion?