Last night was the first meeting of River Community Council after the summer break and events were dominated by the main topic of the night – the controversial
Nairn planning application.
Chair Tommy Hogg told the meeting: “ Things haven’t changed from the responses we put in already but now it just seems nobody is taking any heed of what the community councils are saying, the people’s wishes, so I think it has got to the stage where we’ve just got to dig our heels in and see what can be made of it.
There’s no doubt about it 99% of the townspeople I’ve spoken to personally, and other people telling me, nobody wants it – the application going through. Basically there is no infrastructure in place, the roads are just a disaster as it is. The position of it at the moment is that there’s actually just one way in and one way out. Unless the bypass is up and running it’s just impossible and all your services are just creaking at the seams as it is. To me it just doesn’t make sense, that’s my personal view.”
Tommy then invited comment from the floor of the meeting and the first to speak was his colleague Andrew Purkis who said:
“My worry is that it’s democracy, Highland Council doesn’t seem to be listening to what local people are saying, people who are ratepayers who pay into Highland Council funds. The fact that decisions can be made on large scale developments in Nairn by people who are not connected with Nairn is a little bit worrying”
Andrew then looked across to Colin and Liz and proceeded by asking them: “Are the planning people at Highland Council taking any notice of you as the local Councillors or are they giving lip service to what you say? We have planners making decisions with councillors not connected to Nairn, the effect we know on the road, we know what it is going to be and the impact on that area. The
Highland Council stand to make a lot of money on rates from these developments.
Is Nairn just a cash cow? […] I think there’s something wrong in democracy when
we come to decisions of such importance that the local community don’t really
seem to have a local lot of say in the issue when people come into Nairn and
make these decisions.
Provost Liz MacDonald then spoke. (Liz will not be at the meeting in Inverness next week that will discuss the application as she has been given legal advice that she would unduly compromise herself if she took part in the meetings on South Nairn – see Gurn article here). She said:
“I think one of the reasons it is coming back is so that community councils’ views can be considered. They were missed out at the initial stages of the last planning application so that is why it is coming back – so the local views are involved. I think one of the things that is a problem is that it is enshrined in the Highland Wide Local Development plan and when that was going through, for example, I know the letter that came in from Suburban Community Council, they had observations but they didn’t object in principle to that and the planning application is for a similar amount of houses and the same size of footprint. There’s very little difference between what is in the Highland Wide Plan and what the applicants are applying for. So to find planning grounds for refusal … I’ve asked the planning officer and he says there’s really…to get planning grounds to refuse that application would be very difficult to defend as the policy is in the Highland Wide plan”
Andrew Purkis then made an intervention: “We know this plan will happen but there is not the infrastructure for it. There is no road system for it. The impact of that first development and the future developments on that area or the road and the bridge is going to be an absolute mess.”
Further debate followed which we hope to put in another article if time permits.