Thursday, July 10, 2014

Affordable housing and Infrastructure - two more points from the CCs meeting on Monday night (7/7/14)

There were plenty of questions for Malcolm MacLeod, the Highland Council head of planning and building services, at the Nairnshire combined Community Council meeting when he came to town on Monday night. One woman said during the meeting at the Community and Arts Centre:

“Could you please explain why there is all this emphasis on must have houses, we need all these houses. We must build, we can build there, we can build there and we’ve only skimmed over infrastructure. At the moment Nairn is under pressure. The A96 is a disaster, Lochloy Road that used to be a quiet country road is now a danger area and you are proposing more traffic. Try and get an appointment with the doctor because the clinic has too many patients for the number of doctors. I don’t know what the situation in the schools is now but surely infrastructure should be there before houses?”

Malcom MacLeod responded: “Well we try to make sure that developments when they come along are capable being supportive with the infrastructure that is already there...”

“Not before the development up Lochloy!” came an interruption from the lady that asked the question.

Malcolm MacLeod didn’t get a chance to finish his point before someone else joined in with further points, including: “Everybody here, I bet there is not one person that would say we don’t want affordable housing because we have all been young. We all want a house. But you need to build houses nearer the schools, nearer the clinic and the surgery not across the river. Not causing all these traffic problems under the bridge and all the rest of it.  Why can’t you develop affordable housing where it is needed?

“Again I take your point. Unfortunately there aren’t always sites available for housing. We’ve got houses being built on the old bus station which as you recall had a chequered planning history in terms of getting consent.  That’s been built. That’ll provide, how many, 12?” Malcolm turned to Dick Youngson.

“12 ,” replied Dick but there were advances on that to 16 from the floor.

Malcom continued: “For young families right opposite the schools. That’s a good opportunity but there aren’t huge opportunities for these sites to unfold.

“There’s lots of derelict buildings on the High Street,” said another woman.

“And they may come forward for housing and we will support them. Unfortunately I don’t have compulsory purchase powers to march in and buy someone’s house and say...I wish we did in some ways because I think town centres are changing there’s got to be different uses in Nairn, perhaps more of a mix of flats above shops. It’s a perfectly good thing, we’ve put a lot of effort into it in Inverness.”

The meeting continued and we hope to bring you more notes from it when time permits

Gurn opinion:

It is perceived that there is space above shops etc and perhaps sites in the town centre for affordable housing. But life in a flat doesn’t suit everyone. Where do kids play? It isn’t so easy to have a pet in accommodation without a garden either is it? It might not look it but scattered over the town centre there are actually many different types of accommodation – shouldn’t a mix be maintained in the town centre too? Enough flats here for now perhaps? Then there is the infrastructure of the town centre. Take all the recent developments in the town centre affordable or otherwise such as Marine Flats and then consider Colin MacAulay’s “faecal fountains” on Brocher’s Brae comment. Can the town centre sewage infrastructure take much more? People that move into affordable housing are likely to have cars too so they too have just as much right to move into new schemes on the edge of town whether they are of the existing Kingsteps density or of the presently suggested level for the South Kingsteps land.

Today the Kingsteps objectors would probably find a lot of support across town, would that translate itself into another demonstration on the scale of the community’s reaction to South Nairn? This observer thinks that should the proposal for 90 houses on that site come through the scrutiny of a Scottish Government Reporter unscathed and go forward one day to a real planning application then the T-shirts and the banners just might come out again. Give Nairn a bypass however, and it will be a different ball game as access onto Lochloy Road would obviously be far less difficult, one of the major drawbacks would be removed, and accusations of nimbyism could find a target and settle into the public perception. 


Anonymous said...

The positives from this at least is that their is some discussion,although maybe a bit to late when some decisiones appear to have been made.

The facts are that infrastructure never seems to be high on the agenda of HC planners though they may dispute that, but this is fact when sewage systems are bursting at their seams, gas supplies are only just coping in Nairn.

Traffic flow in Nairn has been thought about under the planning process for Sainsburys but is a complete debuncle which the planners dont want to realise.

Infrastructure first, properties second its the only way, and the right way.

Morton Gillespie said...

You are correct that the objections to the proposed South Kingsteps development could well escalate to that seen for the South Nairn development.
Community Clr.Brian Stewart made a very valid point at Monday nights meeting namely that if the Planners were to engage with the respondents to the consultation process then matters could be resolved and future confrontation avoided.
The anger by those who took the time to participate in the consultation process (and that included the Community Council and Provost Fraser) was due to the fact that their perfectly valid issues were totally ignored by the Planners and simply forwarded to a Reporter in Edinburgh to resolve. Surely these issues are best dealt with at local level. It begs the question as to what purpose does the consultation process serve when the views of over 1,000 respondent's results in no amendments to the Plan. Consultation is a two way process and it should be incumbent on the Council to review, engage and if need be to amend before submitting to Edinburgh for approval.
For the record the key objections to the Kingsteps development are the use of an unsuitable road to access the development (similar to South Nairn?) and the density of the proposed housing which exceeds that of the existing Lochloy development and is 400% more than the adjoining Kingsteps housing.

Anonymous said...

Could someone tell me as to how much affordable housing will be on the market for? Just seems to be a meaningless badge to try and get approval for controversial developments by offering token 'affordable housing'

Many folk or on the minimum wage now, are they going to be able to afford to buy a property?

Anonymous said...

The most important thing the council can do for this town is to build social housing, people have been on the waiting list for years, local people, with no hope of ever getting together a deposit to buy so called AFFORDABLE housing. A lot of disabled folk will be on benefits for life, they don 't have the luxury of having a house to call their own. Stop building these houses that our locals can't afford.
I own my own home and count myself very privileged to be able to live in a beautiful place like Nairn.
But young people are struggling, and it's time something was done about it.
How would councillors like to have no home?
Do what you are paid for and keep pushing for change or live with your conscience.
Those of us who have a home should stop complaining about house building.