Friday, January 05, 2018

Andy Wightman MSP on Scottish Government planning reforms - an article that may interest the many serious students of Nairn planning matters

Given the planning controversies of recent years in Nairn and the view of many in the community that the planning system locally ignores what the community has to say then perhaps some readers may be interested in an article in the National by Andy Wightman MSP. He says:

"A new Planning Bill is designed to strengthen local development planning, improve public engagement and provide better support for infrastructure provision. The Government claims there has been a breakdown in trust in the system and I agree. The Bill seeks to facilitate greater participation and upfront engagement in preparing plans and that is welcome. But it does little to rebuild trust in a process which, for too many communities, remains complex, confrontational and open to abuse."

Andy Wightman says: "If you want to see a planning system fit for the future, please let the committee know your views" 

You can do that by submitting your thoughts via e-mail on the Scottish Government's Planning Bill call for evidence page here. The call for evidence is open until the 2nd of February


Commoner said...

An article that is well worth reading. Wightman describes the present dire state of planning in Scotland in two concise sentences:

"Planning is meant to reflect the needs and interests of communities and provide a process for democratic decision-making about how land is allocated to different uses.

Yet, over the past 10 years and more, planning has been increasingly framed by Ministers as a service to business and investors to stimulate economic growth and as a means by which to support the vested interests of the speculative volume housebuilding industry.

We can see the results all around the country - in the identikit streets of developer-built shoebox-style houses that spread out around Nairn, across the hillsides of Culloden and Balloch, and in the southern suburbs of Inverness - and in the declining centres of many towns across Scotland.

It doesn't have to be like this. The rules need to be changed to encourage diversity of design,and to enable and empower individuals, communities and housing cooperatives to build the kinds of housing that work for them. As the Gurn suggests, comments can be submitted on the Government's proposed new legislation. Do it!

Anonymous said...

"Identikit streets" .......... I'm not sure ........ I think that the communities created on "the outskirts of Nairn" - which is what they once were - is actually what we need. Queenspark - yes please! Broadhill - yes please! Boath Park - yes please! Achareidh - yes please! Tradespark - yes please!
Did they add to congestion? Did they add pressure to sewage? To schools? To healthcare?
Perhaps we need to knock them all down to preserve the Victorian character of the centre?
Hundreds of families want to make Nairn their home. I can't blame them!
Were mistakes made with all our previous new schemes? Yes - and some more so than others.
Is Lochloy perfect? No - it's probably the worst of its predecessors.
But our High Street needs many more shoppers/users than the old days - simply because we do so much of shopping outwith the town. What % of our population buy their car here? 50 years ago, many would have.
Our top priority should be housing for families to come to Nairn and add their energy to what is an ageing population (even older than most in Highland).
That doesn't mean giving carte blanche to developers. Personally, I'd nationalise land!

Gee Plan said...

@ Anonymous of 12:15pm....

"Our top priority should be housing for families to come to Nairn...." .

Er, not quite. That's too simplistic by half. And it puts the cart before the horse. If those who would come to live in that additional housing simply commute to Inverness or elsewhere to work, to study and to shop, then Nairn gains nothing except a further burden on its already creaking infrastructure (overflowing drainage network, traffic-jammed roads, etc etc). That's been the pattern of the last twenty years, and it is failing. That's why a more radical and imaginative approach is needed.

Planning has to be cleverer and more sophisticated. Yes, Nairn does need to expand, and to rebalance its ageing population. But that is achieved by

1) making the town more appealing to tourist visitors (who spend money and create jobs) as well as to incoming settlers and would-be entrepreneurs. That doesn't have to cost a fortune - it just needs political will and civic pride;

2) by attracting and encouraging investment in business, retail and services that create local employment in the town. Investors and businesses want a pleasant environment and quality services and infrastructure, just like local residents do. That needs more engagement by the likes of HIE;

3) by reversing the centralising tendency of the Council and other agencies, and persuading them and other employers - like UHI - to reconfigure and relocate so that public-sector jobs are available in the town;

4) by getting a serious grip (which means Government priority) on broadband-improvement, on good integrated transport links, and the other services that are vital to support employment; and by ensuring that the unique qualities of the town (beaches, natural environment, recreational facilities, views of scenery, the Firth) are not ruined.

Get those things right first, and people will come, work, spend and stay, and the local economy will revive and thrive. Then and only then, think about building more houses. Dr Grigor got it right.

If developers just build houses, that won't stimulate long-term employment, won't make the town more appealing, won't attract visitors, and won't encourage the kind of investment that will enable the town to survive in the long term. No tourists come to view housing-estates. A new way of planning is long overdue.

Who gets the social houses anyway said...

Perhaps our local councillors would like to tell us the percentage of people from Nairn that get these new Albyn and other association houses?

Graisg said...

@Anon re your figures for 151 homes and the impact on local resources, the actual figure for the application you mention is 115.