Monday, February 24, 2014

Scottish Government fly in the South Nairn planning ointment? No bypass access!

Gurnites will be familiar that with the mantra that we must have a bypass to allow the development of South Nairn to go ahead. This has been enshrined in official Highland Council thinking for some years and appeared in the A96 Corridor Framework which is of 2004-6 vintage. There are those serious students of these matters that mention that South Nairn was not in the Nairnshire Local Plan of 2000 but emerged with the A96 Corridor Framework in 2004-6 and it is in this document that the concept of the bypass enabling development at South Nairn surfaces too. 

The A96 Corridor Framework says (p 17):  “Critical Issues:  The commencement of the bypass travelling from the west at Drumdivan is critical.  This will..... provide the opportunity to effectively link new growth areas.... to bring an integrated movement solution for the town as a whole.    Later on the same page, it refers to "....Expansion at Nairn South [allows] the extensions to be integrated into the town through appropriate bypass routing [and public transport provision]...." (see full text on p17 of the document here)

There are probably few in the town that did not agree with the concept that traffic for the South Nairn area in the future could come and go via a junction with a bypass should new and even existing residents wish to use such a facility. 

Yesterday we posted an article based on information from the submissions to the Highland Council’s Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan. There’s quite a lot more in that document (besides the considerable opposition that has emerged to the South Kingsteps proposal) and early into its 124 pages, there can be found a submission from a one Grainne Lennon (Page 22) and she states her ‘organisation’ as the Scottish Government – she is in fact a Holyrood senior planner. Now this is what she says:

“Comment Changes
Page 64, para 4.37: Amend the text… "Longer term development options at Nairn South are largely dependent on the provision of a vehicular access to the proposed A96 trunk road bypass” to read… “Longer term development options at Nairn South are largely dependent on developers agreeing and delivering suitable improvements to the  local road network”. Page 67, Site NA9 Nairn South (long term) table, remove the text… ‘… identifying requirement for linkages to the proposed A96 (T) bypass’ 

Previous TS comment: 
An appropriate access strategy taking into account the cumulative impact of the various development opportunities should be discussed and agreed with Transport Scotland. It would be expected that existing junctions will be used to access the proposed sites.

Additional Comment: 
The Nairn Bypass options recently presented to the public did not allow for a junction in close proximity to sites identified as NA8 and NA9. Reason - Given the policy position set out in SPP on access to the trunk road network and the alignment options and junction strategy being considered by Transport Scotland for the Nairn Bypass, the developments at Nairn South cannot be dependent upon taking access directly from the new trunk road.”

One of our regular readers who has seen the submission detailed above told the Gurn: 

“Now there are differing views as to whether, how, and where the traffic from any future development at Nairn South might come and go.  But if Transport Scotland is adamant that development at Nairn South "cannot be dependent upon taking access directly from the new trunk road" (as per Ms Lennon's comment), then this means there is no option other than for all such traffic to use Cawdor and Balblair Roads southwards (which are not intended to have junctions on to the bypass), or to take the route under the railway and through the town to get - eventually - on to the A96. 

The absolutely killer point of principle is that the original designation of Nairn South for development was based on, and contingent on, the provision of access as part of the delivery of the bypass.  If the bypass does not provide access to the site, then the rationale for its original designation for development falls away. “

The Scottish Government has stated its position – what now for the Highland Council’s  Inner Moray Firth Development Plan and the proposed designations for South Nairn? 


Spurtle said...

Whether in this 'version' of the bypass, or the previous one which had been worked on for some years, there isn't and never was to be any access to the bypass around Howford or those parts, accessible from any future development at Nairn south.

For those involved with any of the earlier bypass working groups, we were told that the access points would be kept to a minimum ie Delnies, Foynesfield, Achnacloich.

Any access specifically included for Nairn south changed the whole dynamic of the project from a 'bypass' to a 'ring road' which would mean that, rather than being funded by government, it would have to have significant developer contribution and the figures didn't add up , from the developers' perspective at least .

Anonymous said...

'what now for the Highland Council’s Inner Moray Firth Development Plan and the proposed designations for South Nairn'?

Hopefully they'll get shelved and Nairnites will start a 'no to the bypass' campaign if they want to preserve their town

Graisg said...

@ Spurtle. It has been suggested to this observer that there has been a lack of joined-up thinking between Highland Council and Transport Scotland in recent times. The two organisations obviously have different aims and ambitions for the bypass.

Anonymous said...

How is Fochabers getting on since they got their bypass - anyone know ?

Anonymous said...

Dunno, I just drive past it now

Anonymous said...

Is it not possible for some of the councillors or community councillors to liaise with their opposite numbers in Fochabers to find out what the impact of the bypass has been through there. It's been open long enough now for the effects to have been fully felt.

Serious Student said...

Spurtle's comments at 9.58pm reveal that the thinking about the bypass has been ambivalent from the start.

The bypass working groups convened by consultants were part of the Council's "grand design" for the A96 Corridor, which is driven largely by the ambition to have lots of development along the route and in and around Nairn.

So while transport and trunk road experts rightly argue that the Nairn bypass should be a bypass (to re-route "through" traffic), the Council planners cling to the idea that the bypass will be a feeder or ring road for the southern suburbs of Nairn.

Spurtle says that this "would change the whole dynamic of the project...[and]...would mean that, rather than being funded by government, it would have to have significant developer contribution and the figures didn't add up, from the developers' perspective at least.".

Quite so. But proof of the Council's ambition - or perhaps their lack of clear thinking about the purpose of the bypass - is in the new Inner Moray Firth LDP, which says (p64) "Delivery of improvements to the A96(T) may require developer contributions." This clearly suggests that the Council, at least, expects the upgrading and rerouting of the A96 to be linked to, and to serve, the new developments foreseen in the IMFLDP.

bypass the bypass said...

I really haven't a clue as to what junctions are proposed or not on Nairn's fantasy bypass, but if they all involve a set of traffic lights rather than a roundabout then it's going to be about as quick as driving along the current A96 through Nairn

Perhaps developers could offer to pay in virtual currency, or how about Bitcoin?

Jane Harkiss said...

I'm with Graisg. Joined up thinking is very underated. Which is a darn shame.