Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"...along with everyone else in Nairn must be shaking their heads in disbelief that we are even considering a development on this scale"

Here's what Michael Green had to say at the planning meeting today (Tuesday 20th August) at which the planning application for South Nairn was rubber-stamped despite a large number of objections from Nairn: 

"This is a complex development especially as there is another 250 house development waiting in the wings. Malcolm and his team, and I thank them for their efforts; have carried out extensive consultation in Nairn. They’ve been to joint community council meetings, they read the Nairnshire, they’ve see a large number of objections. They know that this is not a proposal that has large public support. They know this is deeply unpopular in Nairn and is deeply unpopular for two very good reasons. The first regards  the local infrastructure and its ability to cope with not only the current traffic levels but the increased levels in the future. In Inverness you may speak about the weather but in Nairn when you meet somebody we traditionally speak about the gulls. The gulls have been superseded by the traffic congestion, that’s what most folk talk about now. In fact I was thinking the other day they say that you can see when the Earth is viewed from the moon the only thing you can see is the Great Wall of China but I’m sure that at certain times, if viewed from the moon the A96 traffic tailbacks at Nairn could be seen. Nairn is the new Fochabers, where people really, really resign themselves to the fact that going through Nairn at certain times they are experiencing something pretty close to gridlock.

Many people are not prepared to accept this and they go through Nairn, they take the back roads. They take the back roads through Nairn South, through Cawdor, through Auldearn, they create their own bypass. We call it a rat-run, it is an unofficial bypass. The fact that we are having to consider an application on this scale, 232 houses and 87 flats when another development, as I’ve said already, of 250 houses is in the wings – before we have the official bypass is at best putting the cart before the horse, at worst it quite really beggars belief. We’ve currently got Balblair Road beside the sawmill and Cawdor Road, two old fashioned B-class roads that have to deal with the traffic from Nairn South to the town centre and at the narrow junction with Cawdor Road and Balblair Road merge there is a one lane choke point which results in tailbacks and congestion at either side of the chicane. Now the traffic impact assessment states that the road structure can cope with the increase in traffic from the development and yes it still can cope to the extent that you would still be able to get to Nairn South from the town centre but at what cost?  Greater risk of accidents, localised rat runs, delays. I feel nothing but sympathy, especially for the residents of Queen’s Park and Firhall, along with everyone else in Nairn must be shaking their heads in disbelief that we are even considering a development on this scale.

The second area of concern lies with the impact that this proposed development and the additional development that will be coming along shortly will have on the largest employer in Nairn, John Gordon and Sons the sawmill. Now Gordons have raised all too real concerns that are genuine and completely understandable - even at one level with technical and complicated issues such as noise levels and noise mitigations. How damaging could the proposed development be to its future viability? At  the end of the day once that development is in place there may be new noise regulations coming forward which may mean we may have to address further concerns. It’s a real concern for Gordons going forward. There’s a potential for this and other developments not only to jeopardise future development but also threaten the viability of Nairn’s largest employer. In summation, you’ll be glad to hear Chairman, Nairn needs affordable housing, Nairn needs houses for its ageing population, it needs small scale private developments, all designed to cater for local demands. Nairn does not need, or really want developments on this scale. Now if this development goes ahead I’m very pleased to say that they’ve accepted from our earlier discussions the pause and review after 100 houses so that we can have a traffic impact assessment. But I think it is vital that we have a local liaison group because this is a very complicated development. That we have a local liaison group, it is set up and will be able to report back to this committee. Thank you." 


Anonymous said...

well said sir

In planning terms said...

is Nairn under an Inverness dictatorship?

Anonymous said...

Many of us breathed out a huge sigh of relief when Deveron pulled out of Sandown, and in many ways that was a site more able to cope with the housing development than this one

Democracy has once again failed; will it ever change or are we destined to see Nairn filled with more and more housing developments against the majority of the populations wishes?

For too long we've been subject to the whim's of land owners in Scotland, surely time for that to stop?

Anonymous said...

Is there any way we can object to this abomination still or is it all cast in stone now? Cawdor Road will be a nightmare - I had to wait for ages yesterday afternoon coming from Cawdor, to allow traffic to pass coming from Nairn - this will probably require traffic lights next. Also, how can the doctors cope when they cant cope now? Sewage - I give up...

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 7.27
there is going to be a serious accident under the bridge as some drivers simplt put the foot down to get through and almost collide with cars coming in opposite direction,who have the right of way,the road also floods when theres heavy rain,a big problem that needs addressing asap.

Anonymous said...

If and when they start building the people of Nairn need to do like what the anti fracking people are doing down south

Scratching my head said...

anon @ 7.40am, as far as I could make out, traffic lights were mentioned and seem to be part of the package. Nairn is rapidly becoming known, not as the 'Brighton of the North' but, as the capital city of Traffic lights, or should it be Gridlock town?

Anonymous said...

a new road should be constructed onto the a96,instead of blocking up town roads,if they can afford to build many houses,a road should be implemented in the cost,,why should joe public suffer again

Graisg said...

@ send in the clowns, will try and get that confirmed from others sources before publishing. Thanks for that very, very interesting.

APTSec said...


Have been looking back through old paper work and will comment when I am not dashing out

Anonymous said...

I really can't understand the mentality of this, Nairn is gridlocked now without any further aggravated plans to enhance the already useless situation.

Who are these people who make these decisions, it appears that Inverness\council have a stranglehold on Nairn and based upon past decisions this is doomed to be a master class in wrong decisions.Seriously those who make these decisions probably don’t have to live with it day in day out, just Nairn folk and those having to get through ‘gridlock’ town.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with some of the disruption this new construction may bring, and would be unsettled to see the countryside and green spaces being taken in the area. Can someone tell me, if Nairn is needing more social housing, flats or whatever kind of properties being considered to cope with demand. Where else seriously do people think they should build them that will be more suitable within the town.

APTSec said...

Hi Gurn

I have been trawling back through piles of paperwork and thought readers might be interested in the following.

On the 08 August 2006 the 'Front Page' of 'The Nairnshire' had the headline, 'OPTIONS FOR NAIRN', 'Councillors to debate bypass options and population expansion'. The article continued into page 4 and diagrams of all 5 'Options' were shown. The article began, 'A framework for the development of south Nairn over the next three decades is predicting a population increase by between 3400 and 10,000 people, and with up to 5000 additional houses built and over 4000 jobs created...' Councillors were being encouraged to publicise the options which were to be the focus of consultation in The following month - Sept. Sandy Park is quoted, as chair of the Council's strategic planning committee, as saying, "Some tremendous work has been done by Halcrow and I think we are now seriously looking at a line for the bypass." Indeed, a proposed line for a Nairn bypass was shown on every option diagram and Councillor Park was also quoted as saying, "We must establish a bypass line and it must be an engineered line. I have supported the A96 Masterplan but before there is any development to speak of at Nairn we need a by-pass"

The following week, August 15 2006, on an inside page 'The Nairnshire' records that:

"The most exciting thing to happen to Nairn for 100 years" was how plans for a bypass for the town were described by one local councillor last week...Five proposals for the bypass, outlined in last week's edition of the Nairnshire, were put before last Tuesday's meeting of the Nairn Area Planning Committee for discussion by Halcrow, the council's independent consultants. They will go on public display for consultation at the Community Centre on Thursday, September 14...'

Further to the consultation mentioned above a 'preferred Framework Plan' for Nairn was put before and approved by PDET Committee Councillors (alongside a Plan for east Inverness Developments which were also being consulted on) on 15 Nov 2006. The related report - which I cannot provide a link to because it does not appear to be available at the moment but lucky I have a printed copy - refers to a high level of public interest in Nairn (in fact, 54 responses were noted in the consultation summary in another report) with 'Option B, southern expansion, being 'strongly favoured'. It was also stated that, "There was a high level of support for a town bypass and the earliest possible implementation. Town centre regeneration was important including solutions to the current access bottleneck on the Cawdor Road..."

Another couple of comments which drew my eye in relation to Nairn in this 15 November 2006 report were,

'A new neighbourhood at South Nairn representing the first phase of town expansion, including new District centre facilities located towards the north, from which improved pedestrian links will facilitate the use of town centre shopping and other functions.'

So, having re-read a whole load of bumpf in the last few days, I feel that support for development in Nairn could well have been facilitated by the seductive presence of lines for a much longed for bypass on option diagrams. There was talk about a bypass in the press, quotes by councillors, records in meetings etc.

I am off to look again at what was put before the Committee re the South Nairn application.

APTSec said...

To 'Anon...' at 2.02: "Can someone tell me, if Nairn is needing more social housing, flats or whatever kind of properties being considered to cope with demand. Where else seriously do people think they should build them that will be more suitable within the town."

How we facilitate the development of much needed housing is something which I have considered for a long time.

Looking at Nairn developments in their capacity as part of the A96 Corridor, alongside other Corridor developments for the moment; I wonder how many readers realise that, since Nov 2006, Planning Permission in Principle has been granted for hundreds of acres of land with thousands of housing units.

Permission was given for:

1950 units at Whiteness,
2500 units 'East Inverness',
4960 units New Town' near Tornagrain,
300 units Delnies; Nairn,
300 units South Nairn

10,010 in total to date across the Corridor. At an occupancy rate of 2.1 that could have meant over 21,000 people ultimately housed - 5255 in affordable housing.

I am not certain that housing will be built at 'Whiteness' now but that could still mean around 8060 units.

For Nairn, there is also a development brief for around 300 (?)units at Sandown , plus is there not an application pending for Lochloy?


Then of course there are several other sites in Nairn favoured by THC in the forthcoming Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan which could become available for building. I am of course not counting the other 'windfall' sites in the area.

So there are quite a few sites in Nairn, now and to come, plus of course the flats at the bus station.

Effectively there is no reason why all the housing with permission could not be built immediately, save, of course, for the need to provide the right infrastructure to support all the housing development - little things like providing schools, roads, rail link improvements, healthcare provision, sewage and drainage, water and electricity supplies etc. Then of course there is the capacity of the building industry to complete x number of builds in y time. Then we would need 6000 plus homebuyers to afford the market value housing that would be built across the Corridor.

There were some eye watering figures quoted in 'The Nairnshire' on 26 Dec 2007 re the A96 Corridor Framework Plan, as follows:

'The Framework Plan anticipates:-
Investment of £3 billion
Infrastructure Costs of £326 million
20,000 new jobs
16,500 new houses for 30,000 people

(Cllr MacDonald also pointed out deficiencies in Nairn local infrastructure in this article)

The A96 corridor was designated an 'Area for Co-ordinated Action' to encourage inter-agency co-operation re infrastructure provision.

Most importantly, all this construction, with supporting infrastructure, was to be facilitated by a whizz bang specialist 'A96 Corridor Developer Contributions Protocol' - I have written several letters to the council asking about its progress - which has yet to materialise!!!!!!

So far we have had lots of permissions for lots of homes laready, but building will be restricted for all sites unless the vital supporting infrastructure can be provided.

It would be interesting to find out what Gurn readers thought about,

"Homes Fit for the 21st Century: The Scottish Government's Strategy and Action Plan for Housing in the Next Decade: 2011-2020"


APTSec said...

The missing line from my 1:53 comment

AND, '4.5 The 'headline' statistics for expansion of Nairn are a long term population increase of 9,000, and additional 4,300 housing units adn the creation of at least 4,500 jobs.'

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Fair point and thanks for answering my question APTSec (anon 2.02) clearly quite a few permissions have been given that I didn't realise and also nothing has materialised yet.

Anonymous said...

Interesting but very worrying information.

APTSec said...

To ZZZzzzzz!

I sometimes fall asleep at my desk reading and writing all the stuff about planning and decision making; then I awake in the early hours in my bed worrying about how it will affect us all - with potentially bad decisions even those 'who can be bothered to' cannot challenge, no homes, no infrastructure and no jobs - hey ho happy times