Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nairn South aftermath – time for a way forward?

As can be imagined Nairn South dominated the Suburban Community Council proceedings last night in Nairn Academy. Dick Youngson seemed to be offering both an olive branch and a way forward to Highland Council. He told the meeting last night:

“We’re really at the stage of waiting and wanting to speak to Steve Barron about how we can actually link in now. We’ve written to Steve Barron to arrange a meeting or to invite him to a meeting with us, the us is the seven community councils, including Croy and all the Nairnshire ones. The Community Council of Ardersier isn’t in existence at the moment but all the other community councils are keen to actually work with us and work with Highland Council. Now obviously there has been quite a problem for Highland Council, they haven’t really listened to us nor incorporated really what we had in the reports and it looks very much as if the planning system has failed them as well. They haven’t put in accurately or they haven’t been able to access the information which is there but that is something which is Highland Council’s problem.

The result last Wednesday is leaving them in a rather embarrassing and difficult position and I suggested in a letter which we sent to Steve Barron that  really if we could get round the table and the principals – we don’t want a big meeting, it’s really a workshop meeting – the principals of all the community councils together with Steve Barron and perhaps the Director of Planning and his key staff. We can at least plan ahead to make sure that this really doesn’t happen again. “

Dick also mentioned that the CCs wanted a meeting with the four Highland Councillors that represent the area, “because if we get our lines of communication secure and sensible it’ll be a great start.”

In a similar theme we have received the following from one of our regular readers:

“The debacle of Sandown should have been a wake-up call to planners, developers and Highland Council. The Nairn South decision could have been different if they had learned the lessons of the past. Sandown failed because developers tried to squeeze too many houses into the space without due regard to infra-structure. Nairn South was a suitable plan that would have been acceptable to the community - but for the lack of suitable infra-structure. Highland Council planners were whistling in the dark when they thought that their traffic measurement and mitigating controls could get this past the PED. A pinch-point is a pinch-point - period. And of course, if planners had not so clearly mismanaged their last presentation, this could by now be a done-deal.

Highland Council starts too late in its attempts to engage. Why can't Highland Council do what some other councils have done and set up a planning forums that look at a town as a whole - housing; jobs; infrastructure; tourism; built environment, etc? They then bring forward enabling plans to develop and enhance these various aspects of town life. Developers then know the type of plans they can bring to the table, aware they have a chance of success. So let's throw away the straight jacket of the HwLDP, yet within its broader objectives, find something that works for Nairn. We need proposals to be brought forward that are suited to Nairn and can be embraced by the community. It has got the better than developments currently being parachuted in simply to enable HC to meet its housing target rather than to meaningfully develop and improve Nairn.

I don't suggest it's easy, but if developers and planners want to progress on this front then they need to be more willing to involve local people in their ideas at an earlier stage. Perhaps unlike many other towns, Nairn residents are determined to influence their own future. Don't ignore us. If you work with us, development then becomes a joint vision and not something dumped on us from above. Currently, we are subject to the dreams of various landowners with spare land eager to do deals with developers. Isn't it about time you worked with us? That way we might both meet with success and good fortune.

And yes, Colin, something seismic has happened, but with your fellow councillors, please don't take too long trying to work out what happened. It should be pretty obvious - it's high time we worked together and had our voices heard. Yet I'm not so sure that anything has changed in the fundamental mind set of HC.

Finally, let's be aware that we now have only 3 voices speaking for Nairn in planning matters. Our ex-Provost has effectively gagged herself from making any comment because she has competing land in the mix. Not a happy position for someone who wants to speak for the town to be in.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sage like commentary from Dick with regard the situation, I hope Highland Council listen and act on what he has to say