At some point in the future there will be housing development on Sandown. As the land is owned by the Common Good fund this observer imagines that this would potentially make it easier to enable public housing to be built there. Wouldn't it be nice if the community had more say in how that housing was shaped and what happened to that housing when built? Nairn Common Good owns the land so why can't it own any houses that get built?
Over then to an article that appeared in the latest on line edition of the Scottish Community Alliance newsletter.
"Community owned projects are helping increase the number of affordable homes in the Highlands. Helmsdale & District Development Trust (HDDT) is spearheading a new community led housing development having built four new homes in the Highland village of Helmsdale, backed by £110,000 of Scottish Government investment. Local people have also been heavily involved in shaping plans within the development, as well as the overall priorities the Trust has for the area.
During her visit to Helmsdale, the Housing Minister Margaret Burgess met with one of the new tenants Mrs Amy Withey at the Rockview Place project. Mrs Burgess said “Housing is at the heart of this Government’s ambition to create a fairer and more prosperous country. In the Highlands, Helmsdale and District Development Trust is an excellent example of housing development led by the community for the community. It is great to see not just homes being built, but a wider community being invigorated too."
Only four homes but a great boost for Helmsdale. The potential surely exists for us to do something on a bigger scale in Nairn on the Sandown Lands that can benefit those in Nairn who are in need of housing?
The article goes on:
"Ruth Whittaker, Chairperson of HDDT, commented: “We are delighted and honoured to welcome Mrs Burgess here today, to perform the official opening ceremony of the Helmsdale & District Community Owned Housing Project. Although the homes were actually completed in perfect time for local families to move in just before Christmas 2014, we see the Minister’s visit as an acknowledgement of this community’s tenacity in addressing its housing needs.
“It is significant that our success with this innovative project is now inspiring similar community groups to emulate our pioneering delivery model.” "
Now wouldn't it be amazing to see Laurie out on Sandown one day wearing the municipal bling welcoming the Housing Minister to perform a similar opening in front of a brand new scheme of 20, 30, 40 or as many houses as we had the vision and drive to achieve? An impossible dream? If they can do it in Helmsdale why not here? As well as The Scottish Government, HIE were involved along with a bank who provided finance. More here.
I'm sure there are many, many people in Nairn who would love to see similar happen. Could NICE and other local bodies such as the community councils get together and step forward? Would the Scottish Government also offer backing to Nairn? Most importantly, would the Highland Council be prepared to offer real support and assistance given the crucial role that it plays in its control of Nairn's Common Good Fund? As "local people have also been heavily involved in shaping plans within the development" in Helmsdale can we have some of that here too please?