Tuesday, October 07, 2014

South Nairn and building houses in Nairn – a dissident’s voice raised at the CCs meeting

Murd Dunbar has long been of the opinion that houses should be built on Nairn South. He isn’t alone in that view of course but he is definitely in a minority as regards the huge development that was planned. Large numbers turned out to demonstrate against the proposed project in September 2013, a demo that forced Highland Council to reverse their decision. There then followed the appeal and the hearing which the developer lost. The combined community council meetings generally speak with a sense of collective purpose, gravitas and perceived wisdom about local development and many other matters. Nairn, West and the Suburban Community Councils feel they have their finger on the public pulse when it comes to development in Nairn and the perception that we have had what could be conservatively described as a very raw deal from Highland Council in past years. It is impossible for the CCs to speak for the entire community though and this observer has encountered others with thoughts similar to Murd in recent years, he does remain in the minority but the question would be just how much of a minority is that? At the meeting of the combined CCs last we he asked:

“It’s a fact of life that Nairn needs houses. I have said at numerous council meetings, [...] where, I will ask the three community councils and anybody else in Nairn where would you build houses in Nairn? Not like I was told at one meeting, my grandchildren could go to Tornagrain. [...] Nairn, they want to stay in Nairn, they were born, bred, brought up in Nairn as I was. They want to stay in Nairn. Where will you build houses in Nairn if you’re going to knock back every suggestion? I’ve been at most of your meetings were you knock them back. ”

Graham Vine replied to Murd:

“I was part of the original opposition to Sandown and I think we made it very clear, and there are a number of people here that were part of that process who may be able to back me up, that we did not say no to Sandown. What we did say is don’t over develop Sandown. If it had been the original 120 or revised 240 houses, fine. It was the 550 that we took exception too. So I would like to reassure Murd that there isn’t an utter opposition to building anymore houses in Nairn. There is an opposition to inappropriate over development, solely driven by developer profit. 

Murd continued: “I’d like to know how many of you sitting in this room need a home, are looking for a home. 95% of you are sitting in your own houses.”

John Hart added a point: “That is entirely the point we are making to Highland Council. If they had the brains to put 120, 150 houses on Sandown. You’d have them now. If they had the brains to put a 100 houses in Nairn South, they would have started.”

To this observer the discussion indicated that we do need some more housing built in Nairn very quickly and it would be better if that housing were somehow part of the public stock and made available to people living in Nairn. Why not Sandown? It is land owned by the community, we can decide how many houses - not the Inverness planners. Surely there is a way we can get houses built on there – maybe in such a way that the rental came back into the Common Good (to enable further projects) rather than be paid to Highland Council? Out of the box thinking is required quickly?


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you about needing social housing in Nairn (council houses they used to be called). Murd is right why should our families have to move elsewhere, it s not a case of if we get housing it should be when we get it. The stress of not having a home must be horrendous.
This is a subject that should be top of local councillors adjenda.....everything else should take second place, other than a home, only health takes priority.
It is not too much to ask when you think of what this council does waste money on, and I know that initially it would cost but as you say the money would be more than recouped with rent. The land is already ours so what's the problem.
Wake up councillors. Let's think about the people in our community that actually need help.

Anonymous said...

"There is an opposition to inappropriate over development, solely driven by developer profit".

So the hunt is on to find a developer who's aim is not about making as big a profit as possible. Good luck with that one

We need Social Housing said...

What springs out to me is the difference regarding building houses, i.e. building private houses for sale on council owned land where the council get the income from the sale of the land (Sandown)from the developer.

Then you have the building of social housing, well highland council virtually build very few houses for social purposes now but they are in partnership with others hence Highland Housing partnership where others i.e. Cairn, Albyn who can access funds not available to HC can build.

Then the houses built are split between the parties for occupancy from their waiting lists, (not just locally).

Until such a time comes when HC have money which they can build houses with to reduce the local waiting list, then the local housing list will grow and the local people Murd refers to will find it extremly difficult to get a "council house" in Nairn where they want one.

That is unless they buy.

I see no future for Nairn folks looking to HC to build council houses in Nairn, it really looks like a lost cause worst luck.

Murd has a good point, to which at the very least Sandown, (council owned land) must be set aside for social housing builds only at the very least.

I didn't vote no said...

The number of social housing units being built it just a drop in the ocean for what is needed

Right to buy was only dropped by the Scottish government this year so we've had decades of public housing being sold off rather than passed onto those in housing need

Successive governments have seen the private rented sector as being the cheapest way to deal with the acute housing shortage that we now have. This has been short sighted as the massive rents are often paid for via the state in housing benefit, but worse we've left generations of people financially impoverished just to put a roof over their heads. Many, even those in good jobs will never be able to save enough to buy a property

So we have another divide in the increasing gap between rich and poor in this society, the landlords and those renting from them

We had a chance last month to make changes in Scotland, a small majority said no so we're pretty much stuck with what the Tories and Labour offer us. Not much when it comes to social housing, and I cannot see this changing anytime soon

Anonymous said...

Social housing in Nairn, just who gets these properties. If you are a single mother (and before people say anything I know some people can't help finding themselves in these circumstances) you seem to get a house/flat no trouble at all, but what about all the young males who are trying to make their way in life, they have no chance.

Anonymous said...

Ring fence any amount of land you want, we're never going to see any volume of social housing built in our lifetimes

For those of you who haven't seen the financial forecast we're about to go into yet more years of austerity that'll make the current cuts seem like nothing

There's no money to do anything anymore, probably even less than that

Anonymous said...

Don 't say we can't have it, we have to have it.
It's been proven if you want something done, get out there and protest chain yourselves to the town house railings.
If you don 't make yourselves heard( like they did at Nairn South) nothing will happen. I have a house but I would still come out on the side of what is actually 'the homeless'

Anonymous said...

I wanted Scottish independence but have yet to get it, maybe soon

If the Town House railings are magical I'm prepared to chain myself to them if it helps

Anonymous said...

Can people stop bringing up the referendum. Also the issue of social housing might not be as big an issue if there was enough housing stock, at least rental value wise. Even if a developer was given the go ahead to build 500 houses. Would we get 500 soon addressing a supply issue, bring down house values and rental rates. Or.. would they drip feed the houses so demand always stays very high and prices also....

referendum said...

@Anon 6:33

Well of course the issue of social housing wouldn't be there if there was a stock in this area but there are hardly any properties available with even fewer being built

There are thousands of folk on the waiting list for housing in the Highlands so even a development of 500 would make little difference


What i said was Nairn needs houses never have I said it should be Council housing. So why assume all young couples cant afford to buy new. Some parents do help their children to get a start in life. But if proposed building site's keep getting the knock back they don't even have that chance. Yes there will be some who would have to be housed by the Council So don't go judging other peoples means by what you think is required.
As for if it had been for a smaller number that would be fine? {Any excuse is better than none}
Just remember when Lochloy started it was just a few then another developer built just a few more. It is still growing just a few at a time. And then there is the cry for more footfall on the high Street if we had more housing it might have a chance but as it is only the people who use it now will shop there and there is a question mark over that. JUST GET HOUSES BUILT and the rest will look after it's self.

Brian Turner said...

We might have more sustainable development in Nairn if we didn't have to rely on the incompetent planning department at the Highland Council, who keep going behind the public's back to change agreed planning applications into unsustainable monsters.

Anonymous said...

@ Brian Turner

It's not planning departments going behind the public's back, it's developers who are making the changes after an initial plan has been passed. The council planners are obliged by law to look at these amended plans which are often for an increase in densities etc.

It seems to be an almost standard procedure by which many developers operate but it's important that we recognise the process and don't just blame the planning departments who often have their hands tied

The council are in an awkward position as in general they want to attract investment in residential developments as that equals initial money from the scheme and then additional monies when people move into the properties and start paying council tax.

Balancing this are the already establish communities who understandably are not always keen on having hundreds of new neighbours

Not an easy one for the council to get right as they get blamed by both sides

No Murd said...

Murd - I take your point, but you make it sound as if people "that is" those that can afford too are waiting for a developer to build houses for them.

If they can afford to buy as you seem to suggest through possibly help from their parents, then there is nothing to stop them finding a plot of land somewhere to build locally.

local people are against developers attaining planning consent for ex amount of houses and then expanding that after permission has been granted just for pure greed and profit.

You seem convinced that there is a demand by local people for new houses yet most of the developments built in the last 10 years are occupied by peole who have come into the area or by buy to let organisations and individuals with growing property buy to let portfolios.

It would be interesting to have a survey to show if local people looking for a home actually want to buy from a developer or rent a social house. I think I may guess the answer to that.

People will buy from profit making developers but only those who can and the mojority are not local, that is a fact!

You just need to accept that local people dont want overdevelopment in areas of the town that is creeking at the seams with overexpansion on utility supplies and sewage systems at the very least, you cant just keep adding new houses which fudemently are not purchased by local people and justify it by saying it will increase footfall to the high street that is pure fantasy and not fact!

Anonymous said...

Many people living locally earning local wages will not be able to get a mortgage, now or any time soon. But they still need somewhere to live. Build social housing!

Anonymous said...

A person on £25,000 salary a year with no debts may be able to borrow £100,000 for a property. Currently looking on the HSPC website that will buy you a flat in Nairn or a plot of land, nothing else

£25K is just above the average salary and I suspect that there are many folk who earn a lot less, witness minimum pay, part time work, and zero hours. You're lucky if you get any security with a job now which makes it near impossible to take out a mortgage. There are those who literally don't know where the next penny is coming from or when it might arrive, that's the society we've created

I take Murd's point about parents helping out financially but with the huge reduction in what I'll get from my pension now to what I thought I might get 10 years ago my small nest egg of savings is very much spoken for, and selfish though it may seem I'm not in a position to give my kids a large wad of cash towards a property

I really don't know what the answer is. 24 years ago I managed to get a mortgage and somehow it looks as though I'll pay it off soon but times are much tougher now

I'm afraid I despair for the future of our country now, I don't see much hope


The last plot of land I looked at asking price over £90.000 with no services and I have built houses and know what it would cost. I said help not go Bankrupt.
It would also be interesting to know how many [Nairn] locals were at the west protest I did not see a vast amount con-cindering the population of the town.


Anonymous said...

Build your own is unrealistic for most and somewhat off topic. Perhaps the planners and local groups should agree locations of potential opportunities and get some of the infrastructure in with the bypass (though slightly longer term). Make it easy for the developers rather than digging up again and they won't squeeze as much post planning etc. (or am I an optimist)

Anonymous said...

My husband and i both work in Nairn, our children are at school in Nairn, my husband was brought up in Nairn. We have been on the council list for about 15 years even after he has served his country in the Army. We are not in a position to buy a house. We are homeless in two months. Nairn needs housing at reasonable rents not extortionate private rents with no stability. We have even had to apply to Moray council as they have been building more properties. We dont want to move out of Nairn but may have to.

Graisg said...

anon - please contact us (in confidence) at info@gurnnurn.com