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?