Last night saw a discussion session in the Courthouse to top up the day’s consultation event on the town centre action plan – copy available online here. Present were community councillors and representatives of groups such as NICE (Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise and NEI (Nairn Economic Initiative) in the town with previous and ongoing interests in town centre development. There was also a power-point presentation from HIE.
There was then discussion around three tables on three questions:
Which projects could the community take forward?
Who could work in partnership to deliver the projects?
Which projects will be most difficult to achieve?
The conversations around these questions then went ahead under three themes with their own lists of proposals, they were:
1. Improve High Street environment and expand activities.
2. Make better use of area between King Street and the High Street.
3. Improve walking and cycling links between the town centre and surroundings.
Gurnites would be familiar with many of the elements of discussions that this observer heard and participated in. It is hard to know just what we can achieve in this time of austerity and just where enthusiastic volunteers might come from to put their shoulders to the municipal wheel along with some of the long-serving usual suspects who have been hard at it for years in an effort to take forward some of these proposals. A bit of inspirational momentum is now needed but sadly if felt at times last night that the consultation wheel was being spun one more time to see if any magical solution popped out of the ether. This observer doesn’t doubt the sincerity of all involved but something needs to happen fast to give impetus to the whole basket of wish-lists – Colin MacAulay’s micro brewery/distillery perhaps? There was still optimism though but of the subdued variety. Who knows we might actually get somewhere this time instead of coming back for more of the same in 12 months time?
You can read the town centre action plan here. HISEZ (a new one for some perhaps) will be holding a networking event at some point in the future for all those groups involved in taking forward the proposals. So far the only proposal that seems to be going ahead full steam without any further input necessary is the redesigned shop front scheme that will enable High Street businesses to access the Sainsbury’s cash designated for makeovers – this time it will be a lot easier for the shopkeepers to jump through the hoops thanks to a new process drawn up by Highland Council’s area manager Liz Cowie.