Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lochloy – a non-existent bridge over troubled planning waters

No River CC meeting seems to be complete these days without either the Lochloy grass cutting problems on the agenda or debate at some point on Lochloy related issues – namely the lack of planning enforcement. A resident of Lochloy present on Wednesday night told the regular River CC monthly meeting:

“But surely when planning permission was granted in the first place something should have been put in place to ensure that the planning regulations were upheld.”

The Westies Chair, Rosemary, who was also at the meeting then intervened: “Mr Chairman could I actually ask our ex Provost Liz over there. She’s been an elected councillor for some years. When you saw these things weren't happening at Lochloy did you do anything about it?

Liz replied that she had meetings with planning officers and that she thought the problem had been lack of enforcement.

Rosemary followed this up: “Well would you see if there is some way out of this because surely if things aren't complied with then it’s the fault of what was put down in the first place? Therefore you should have been shouting it to the rooftops.”

There was some more debate and then Liz got another chance to say more: “The last time I actually went and arranged a meeting with planning officers the files had been archived that had the conditions in them and they took them back out and they started collecting the monies again for the bridge across which I think that the council is now trying to deliver. But it has…I mean, that site has been a nightmare.”

Simon Noble then said: “It is quite easy to be critical of the councillors in relation to this but actually it’s also easy to be critical of the council officers but what happens with things, particularly where they drift over a long period of time, is that you get people that go off sick, you get people who leave. Other people come in. The documents don’t get picked up at the right place. So there need to be mechanisms that ensure there is an accurate record of what needs to be reviewed.”

Rosemary seemed exasperated by Simon’s viewpoint and interrupted: “But those mechanisms are there, they are there already, they’re just being absolutely ignored. It’s been ignored up there and nobody’s shouting about it!.”

Simon came back: “You’re asserting that but I haven’t heard that the mechanisms are there and the point has been raised before. There’s been kind of nods of heads there’s been various other things but there’s not been an absolute assertion that the mechanisms actually exist.”

Rosemary wasn’t finished yet, she added: “Well I presume the Highland Council work with some mechanisms that are supposed to work if they grant applications and say the proviso is the bridge must be built for people, then there must be a mechanism that it should have been.”

Simon also had more to say: “The point that I’m trying to get to is that if there is a mechanism that also includes local people that have a vested interest. In other words, for example, people that live on the Lochloy development, they will have a vested interest in that. People who live in Nairn South, if that goes ahead, people who live there have a vested interest in making sure that the planning conditions are complied with and they are involved in that mechanism. It gives it a greater likelihood of succeeding…

There was a sharp interruption from Rosemary: “Well I don’t share your enthusiasm and I think that whatever mechanism you put there will still be ignored.”

Stephanie, the secretary of River CC then spoke: “I wrote about the bridge in Lochloy and I have a reply which referred me back to a huge consultation document from ages ago and when I read it through – it took me ages to read through. It virtually said they weren’t going to do it.” 


Spurtle said...

The bridge was a condition attached to the outline consent granted for the development as a whole, or at least it was part of the grand plan, as presented to the townsfolk.

The problem was caused by the developer subsquently applying for detailed, or full, consent in smaller batches of houses and a some of the conditions attached to the original masterplan went out of the window.

Lesson to learn :

The devil is in the detail & don't trust developers or Council planning officers to follow through on promises made, even if those promises are documented .

Chances of getting a footbridge over the railway at Lochloy........?

Well the odds would be close to the chance of getting the new school, shops and play areas that were also mentioned at the same time....

Anonymous said...

I'm a dedicated follower of planning matters but could someone please tell me as to what the proposed Lochloy bridge is please?

Graisg said...

Anon, there was meant to be a bridge across the railway for folk in the Lochloy schemes to get to the industrial estate. It would have been really handy in this new millennium for anyone wanting to go to Sainsbury's :-)

Anonymous said...

Why not ask the developer directly what happened to the bridge ?

Simon and Carbuncle said...

"Liz replied that .... she thought the problem had been lack of enforcement" and "....that site has been a nightmare.".

Not to mince words, it is another example of Council slackness and incompetence. Spurtle's description of what happened is accurate.

It is however no solution to suggest that some kind of joint "mechanism" should now be created involving local residents to monitor the implementation of planning consents. This is not only naive, but it blurs the clear lines of responsibility and accountability that exist (or ought to exist).

Council planning officials are tasked to manage the delivery of agreed plans and ensure that developers meet their obligations. If they fail they should be fired.

Elected Councillors are responsible for seeing to it that their officials do what they are supposed to do. Councillors should be held to account accordingly. Suggesting some sort of joint monitoring committee misses the point.

It is a depressing reflection on local administration that this issue has only resurfaced (and Liz seems to have suddenly woken up to it) because Community Councils and others highlighted these failures during the discussions about Nairn South.

As has been said before - Nairn deserves better than this.

Anonymous said...

So the whole site has been a nightmare and we now have the adjacent area at Kingsteps in the inner Moray Firth Development Plan to add to the nightmare.

One option then would be to put a developer contribution in place on any development at Kingsteps (90 houses is the figure being proposed) to fund the missing bridge and ensure that it is strictly enforced.