The IMFLDP (Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan), will shortly be moving on to the next stage where all the Council’s preferred development options will go to Scottish Government Reporters for examination. The planners have reassessed the situation and are putting their latest document to next week’s Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee.
In an agenda document the planners recommend the deletion of NA9 from the proposed Nairn South development area and state as the reason: “Transport Scotland’s confirmation that no junction will be provided from the A96 bypass to service the later phases of Nairn South”. As for the area that is the existing application and now the subject of the June planning hearing they state: “NA8 Nairn - outcome of Nairn South Hearing to dictate allocations to be reflected in the Plan - The Hearing Reporter’s findings will be known before the close of the Plan Examination and will strongly influence the Plan Reporters’ findings.”
In a section that states “The following list outlines the Council’s suggested position on issues that are regarded as worthy of consideration at Examination. “ There is an entry that reads “Reduction in the capacity of Nairn NA2 South Kingsteps - Dependent upon the outcome of transport and flood risk assessments.” Gurnites will recall that this reponse to the “call for sites” received many submissions objecting to the proposal – details in this Gurn article here. As this land belongs to Liz MacDonald it was to mean she was unable to speak at the meeting when the Nairn South planning application was turned down and she continues to be unable to speak on major planning issues affecting Nairn.
Further down the lists there is a statement that the reason for not supporting additional development sites at Househill is “need improved access, linked to future bypass provision.” Likewise additional development sites at Fort Reay are not supported because "Premature to provision of improved access via Sandown, woodland impact".
Gurnites can read the agenda document (Report by Director of Development and Infrastructure) here. There is also another document in the public domain now and that contains detailed responses from the planners to community concerns locally. It is a massive PDF file available here. The Nairn section begins on page 324 where the representations from the town’s Community Councils and numerous individuals are listed. The “summary of responses (including reasons) from the planning authority” begins on page 360. There are detailed sections on Nairn Harbour, Fort Reay, Househill, Delnies, the Showfield, South Kingsteps, Achareidh, Sandown, Lochloy, the town centre and Balmakeith. There is also extensive information on the Bypass requirement etc.
This observer has had a quick look and found it very interesting. Some Gurnites may wish to give it considerable study. It goes before the committee next week and this observer wonders if Nairn members will back the officers’ recommendations or will make any interventions to try and see further changes in the document before it goes for Scottish Government scrutiny.
Over the next few days we hope to have a further look at elements of this longer document but, in the meantime, here’s one wee extract from the section entitled “Plan involvement and preparation”:
“Expressed community opinion in Nairnshire does favour lower growth levels than promoted by the Council. However, the Council must balance other considerations in its plan making including the needs of those that do not engage in the Plan process. As stated above, the Council’s growth locations and assumptions are already established within the recently adopted Highland wide Local Development Plan (HwLDP), which was subject to Examination by Scottish Government appointed Reporters and addressed similar objections regarding growth levels.”
The remark “the Council must balance other considerations in its plan making including the needs of those that do not engage in the Plan process” is very interesting to this observer. Is there an implication there that the planners understand what is the desire of “those that do not engage in the plan process” is? And would that be different to the opinions expressed in the joint submission of the town’s community councils who spoke with one voice in their submission to the plan process? Could one be forgiven for thinking that “Expressed community opinion in Nairnshire” as articulated by the community councils for example, could be seen as nearest thing to the democratic will of the people?