Friday, November 15, 2013

30 houses for the Showfield then?

The Highland Council blueprint for Nairn that is up for consultation just now has one or two areas shaded in in different colours that Gurnites here and there are paying particular attention to. If you wish to know more about the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan then there are links to the Highland Council site and a Gurn reader's unofficial guide here and here.

One of our regular readers Bill, wrote to us this week. He said: "Thought there might have been some sign of chatter on the Nairn Gurn about the  proposal to build on the Showfield, not seen any so far. 
Current plan is for half the field, but once that’s done how long before the other half on the A96 side gets taken for housing.  I declare an interest because I live on the edge of the field, but also feel that apart from any personal concerns that it is a loss of amenity, recreational land for the community."

Legitimate concerns there from Bill, what does the plan itself say however? 

A cropped screenshot from the bottom of page 64 of the plan where all the big and wee bitties proposed for Nairn are listed. 

"Excambion" was a new one on this observer but more erudite Gurnites out there will probably have come across the word before. The font of all digital knowledge Wikipedia states: "In Scots law, excambion is the exchange of land. The deed whereby this is effected is termed "Contract of Excambion". There is an implied real warranty in this contract, so that if one portion is evicted or taken away on a superior title, the party losing the property is entitled to demand the return of the other given in exchange"

So Gurnshire, if you have any thoughts for or against the proposal for the Showfield you had better make representations to the ongoing consultation and/or contact the town's three Community Councils. The Gurn understands that they are considering a joint representation to all the proposals. 

Once again: A Highland Council page about the plan here, their comment submission page here and a Gurn reader's guide here


Brian Turner said...

The issue was mentioned a while ago on the Gurn. The farming society mentioned an interest in building homes, but they they would reserve judgement for the time being. This raised a cheer from Gurn commentators, rather than surprise that the land was being zoned for building in the first place.

If the NFS is no longer able to use the land for the Nairn Show, I'm sure the town would welcome its donation to ensure the continued hosting of other events there.

not good enough? said...

@Brian Turner

The idea of houses on the Showfield is far from being a new idea Brian, maybe that's why the Gurn's comments from Nairnites reflected this

Farm Hand said...

The future of the Farmers' Showfield has come up for debate before (at one time it was suggested a supermarket might be built there).

Anyone who has ideas needs to consider the position - and the interests - of the Nairn Farmers' Society. They own the land. It is in effect their only capital asset. But it is no longer suitable as the Show venue. It is too small, and not easy for access and parking. The NFS has been lucky that a local farmer offers the use of a field for the Show; but this is neither guaranteed nor permanent.

The Showfield is important as green open space to the local community, nearby residents and sporting groups. But it is simply not realistic, Brian Turner, to expect the NFS to donate the land - free - to the local community. The NFS needs somehow either to realise the capital value of this asset in order to give it the finances to continue operating successfully; or it needs to obtain another site which can accommodate the annual show (and maybe be used for other activities during the rest of the year?).

So the choice is stark. The NFS could offer the Showfield for development. This is likely to deliver the largest amount of money to the NFS, as the land is in a prime location (and that is no doubt why they have sought to have at least part of the land zoned for housing).

The other option is for the NFS and the Highland Council (as planning authority and trustee of the Nairn Common Good) to negotiate and agree a fair exchange (excambion!) of the existing Showfield for a larger portion of land at Sandown, which is Common Good and so Nairn community land, to serve as a new Farmers Showfield. The existing Showfield would thus be taken into the Common Good as an community asset, which ought then to safeguard its future as open space.

The draft IMFLDP identifies this as a possibility. But to achieve a satisfactory arrangement requires imagination, and community support, and encouragement for the Farmers' Society to negotiate a land-exchange with the Common Good. This should result in a win-win outcome for the Society itself, for the neighbours of the existing Showfield and the Sandown land, and for the wider community of Nairn.

It requires, above all, a positive and constructive approach by Highland Council, both as CG trustees and as planning authority, to deliver an arrangement which serves the interests of Nairn. Now there's a challenge our elected Councillors should be taking up - and urgently.