Yesterday at the Lidl supermarket consultation for a proposed site at Balmakeith held in Nairn Community and Arts Centre, (See previous Gurn article for images of plans) Andrew Stanley of the developers Ziran outlined the thinking behind this project from the point of view of developers and the supermarket chain. Obviously there is enough existing potential business in Nairn but potential factors such as the bypass, Ardersier rising like an industrial phoenix and proposed housing expansion also feature in Ziran’s calculations.
Andrew addressed Nairn Business Association members and Community Councillors:
"Ziran is a relatively new company but all of the people in it go back, like ww do, quite a way so we have a track record of doing developments. The last one was the town centre in Bicester. We brought Sainsbury’s here. [...] Look to the west of the site up there and we think with the pressures on Nairn at the moment from different directions, the bypass, the town centre, what’s happening to town centres throughout the country, that Nairn really needs some more names to bring people into Nairn to make more of a centre for a wider catchment. Sainsbury’s certainly does that to an extent. With the pressures of at some stage, the bypass coming along, a very fast dual carriageway – 30 kms of it all the way from Inverness, whichever route is chosen. [...] And whenever bypasses are done it always diverts people away from the actual town that it is bypassing and the first thing we see are signs up on the bypass saying “visit so and so” off the bypass. So if there is more of a reason to come into Nairn then this is what we are trying to do.
|Community Councillors and Association of Nairn Business folk at the consultation|
On top of that, and I know people are sceptical, there are we think a lot of jobs coming into Ardersier and the information is that they will start running towards the end of next year and within two years there could be within two and two and a half thousand jobs created at Ardersier. I know that some people are sceptical but there have been all sorts of plans there. That together with the housing also that is coming into Nairn. We think it’s the ideal time to think about extending the retail offer of Nairn.
The big four supermarkets are going through a rough patch at the moment. Lidl and Aldi, those two are on the up. [...] They used to be cheap, cheerful, pile it high. I think now, Lidl certainly, sell themselves on the quality of their produce as well as, yes they’ve got a limited range and things, but it is quality if you look at all the latest advertisements. So we think it is time to bring, and they want to come into Nairn. [...]
At the same time we are also looking at a couple of other major names, they wouldn’t come if it wasn’t for the Sainsbury’s and the Lidl activity here. So it all gels into bringing Nairn a lot more retail activity and a lot more names and a lot more jobs. We think the reasonable estimate is about 80 jobs, 80 full time equivalent jobs and then more on the construction side. Lidl don’t, as they used to do, bring everything in from Germany in kit form, they actually do use local labour and local construction firms Nairn. So really that’s where we are.
Time wise, after today we’ve got some surveys to do. But we’re looking at an application possibly; end of October/beginning of November and we’ve been talking about the retail impact assessment, they’ve got to be done. I think we can say we will consult with you and various bodies about those and hopefully look at any problems that might arise from that. We are also looking at the transport issue. We know there are issues with traffic light. I know Sainsbury’s paid for another set of traffic lights but that was at the behest of Transport Scotland. [...] But that does need looking at as well and our transport people are quite willing to work with, not just Transport Scotland but also hear what local people say about the situation that exists at the moment. "
Over the next few days we hope to bring you more from the meeting including some responses from members of the Association of Nairn Businesses.