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 The gulls have been superseded by the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."