Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hospital bus stop on Cawdor Road now much closer to being fully on the authorities wish list?

We had the pleasure of a blether with Murd and Kirsty yesterday as they popped in to visit Mrs Gurnmeister  in Raigmore (she's doing very well now readers and could be home soon - feck, time to start tidying up). 

Anyway Murd (already responsible for the erection of one bus stop over at WhinnieKnowe due to his indefatigable efforts) tells us that a bus stop on the Cawdor Road is now more a possibility. This observer will never forget the night at a River CC meeting when he had a bit of craic with Michael Green. Michael had just succeeded in obtaining a bus stop for a group of bairns waiting for a bus up in the Nairnshire Hinterland. "That's us one all on bus stops Michael," said Murd during a vein of priceless banter between the two of them. 

So it might take a bit of time yet but Murd tells us he hears from a Nairnshire Community Partnership direction that although Highland Council are interested in the proposition of a bus shelter being erected and placed at the Nairn & County hospital there is no funding in the 2019/20 budget but that that the Partnership Chair, Chief Inspector Brian MacKay, has asked that inclusion in the 2020/21 budget is considered.
Murd's photoshop design for a bus stop on the Cawdor Road outside Nairn Hospital

Additional meeting of Nairn River Community Council this evening 20th February 2019 in the Community and Arts Centre at 7.00 pm

Details of Agenda here.   The minutes of the last meeting held on the 23rd January available here. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Save the Sequoia - pleas to retain tree as part of proposed development - "This Wellingtonia tree is an exceptional green asset. It is capable of surviving long into the future. To destroy it would be a short-sighted and cynical act of extreme environmental vandalism."

The planning application reads: " Erection of ten houses with associated garden and parking areas  Land 50M North Of The Hermitage St Olaf Manor Cawdor Road Nairn."

Nairn River Community Council are not against the development but want the Sequoia retained. They state in their submission:

"As a Community Council we tend to lean towards supporting this application, but we cannot do so if it means the Giant Sequoia is to be removed, especially where we can see that a very small re-design to the layout would avoid any need for it to be removed. We also consider that the site is in danger of over-development with ten proposed houses and it is this over-development that is forcing the removal of these long-established trees that have high landscape value. If a redesign of the layout allowed for the retention of the Giant Sequoia, it could be argued that our objection would be superseded."

There are two comments on the behalf of the Friends and Families of current residents of The Manor Care Home which read:
"On behalf of the Friends and Relatives of current residents of The Manor, we also want to object to the loss of visual amenity and the likely loss of wildlife. Many of the residents gain a great deal from being able to look at the beauty of the trees on the site and often watch the wildlife which is present on the site. Much of this will be lost and will therefore impact on these vulnerable adults' opportunity to enjoy the natural environment of the site."

"I am writing on behalf of the Friends and Families of current residents of The Manor Care Home. We feel very strongly about the likely impact on the very vulnerable adults who already live on the site, specifically as the result of increased traffic flow on the site. All vehicles will have to drive alongside the current buildings. Many of the residents use this area for walking and often are not fully aware of traffic around them. There will also be an impact on the privacy of the residents whose rooms overlook the road. We strongly request further consideration is given to taking traffic to the Fit Homes round the back of the site instead."

Other comments read:

"I object to the proposed removal of trees from this site which are listed as High Quality (Cat A) or good/Moderate Quality (Cat B) in the Arboricultural Assessment. The proposals envisage that 40 of the 116 trees on the site (that is 35% of the total), plus untagged trees, will all be removed. The species include Scots Pine, Wych Elm and others, all of which taken together constitute a significant environmental and "green" asset.

In particular I object in the strongest possible terms to the proposed removal of the Cat A Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia) . This healthy and impressive specimen is uniquely valuable. It is part of the area's environmental heritage, and a major feature.

A previous nearby planning proposal in 2005 (Rhuallan) was refused on the grounds that the removal of another Giant Sequoia there was unacceptable. This is therefore a directly relevant precedent, and the same considerations apply. Any development-planning consent for this site should enable, and require, the retention of the Wellingtonia and other good-quality mature trees. 

The removal of this "veteran" tree and other mature trees in the area would also be directly contrary to Section 147 of Scottish Planning Policy 3 as reflected in the Highland Council's own Supplementary Guidance on Trees Woodlands And Development adopted in January 2013.

In these days of increasing awareness of the importance of long-term, sustainable strategies for the protection of the natural environment for future generations, the local planning authority has a particular responsibility to set an example of good stewardship. 

This Wellingtonia tree is an exceptional green asset. It is capable of surviving long into the future. To destroy it is not only inconsistent with current government and Council policy. It would be a short-sighted and cynical act of extreme environmental vandalism.

I object to the proposed removal of trees from this site which are listed as High Quality (Cat A) or good/Moderate Quality (Cat B) in the Arboricultural Assessment. The proposals envisage that 40 of the 116 trees on the site (that is 35% of the total), plus untagged trees, will all be removed. The species include Scots Pine, Wych Elm and others, all of which taken together constitute a significant environmental and "green" asset.

In particular I object in the strongest possible terms to the proposed removal of the Cat A Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia) . This healthy and impressive specimen is uniquely valuable. It is part of the area's environmental heritage, and a major feature.

A previous nearby planning proposal in 2005 (Rhuallan) was refused on the grounds that the removal of another Giant Sequoia there was unacceptable. This is therefore a directly relevant precedent, and the same considerations apply. Any development-planning consent for this site should enable, and require, the retention of the Wellingtonia and other good-quality mature trees. 

In these days of increasing awareness of the importance of long-term, sustainable strategies for the protection of the natural environment for future generations, the local planning authority has a particular responsibility to set an example of good stewardship.

This Wellingtonia tree is an exceptional green asset. It is capable of surviving long into the future. To destroy it would be a short-sighted and cynical act of extreme environmental vandalism." 

"I have examined the plans and I know the site well. I wish to object strongly to this development at this location for reasons I have spelt out below. 

Under the Scottish Government Planning Policy & principle 194 the planning system should "Protect and enhance ancient semi-natural woodland as an important and irreplaceable resource, together with other native or long-established woods, hedgerows and INDIVIDUAL trees with high nature conservation or landscape value.

The 'Scottish Natural Heritage' website 'Nature.Scot' - a site that provides professional advice for planning and development, states "......even single trees - chiefly veteran trees - may also have biodiversity value and add to landscape character and quality. These should also be protected from adverse impacts caused by development.

"The application includes the removal of a Giant Sequoia along with many other types of trees. The Giant Sequoia and the Sycamore are both graded in the Arboricultural Impact Assessment( provided by the applicant) as BS Category A. The large Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia T2152) is a very impressive and prominent tree on the site and is one of few examples in the Town. 

If the Giant Sequoia has to be removed to allow this deveopment to go ahead it means that the site is being over-developed. A very small re-design to the layout of these houses would avoid any need for it to be removed.

An application at Rhuallan which is located not far to the South of this site reference number 05/00073/FUL that also required the removalof a Giant Sequoia, that application was refused. The Sequoia in Rhuallan then was 25m and this one under threat today is 27m.

On the 12th of June 2018 at the SPAC meeting in the Council Chamber Highland COuncil Principal Planning Officr Ken McCorquodale stated, while presenting the case on planning references (17/05059/LBC and 17/05060/FUL) for housing in Inverness, that "mature trees.... from well within the property are important to retain as they add much character and value to the area". Following that precedent then presumably the same principles apply to trees in Nairn, particularly since at this site the mature trees, includes this 'landmark' Giant Sequoia. Any inconsistency of planning decisions on this topic begs the question of whether planners consider Nairns' natural environment and heritage to be of lesser importance than that of Inverness. 

This tree is a fantastic addition to the area and we must remember that this is "about what type of sky-line we bequeath to future generations in this town."

"As a resident of the area covered by Nairn River Community Council I wish to fully support their comments on this application.

Yes build on the site but in such a way as to preserve the magnificent Sequoia for future generations."

"I object in the strongest possible terms to the removal of so many trees to facilitate this development, particularly the Giant Sequoia and the other class A trees. We are privileged to have such specimens in our town, and they must be retained. There are few enough such wonderful examples in this area.

The Cawdor Road area has lost many wonderful trees over the last period, we cannot be expected to tolerate more losses to the Heritage that we leave to our future generations."

We would urge any readers that agree with these comments to also submit their thoughts to this application on the Highland Council e-planning pages here 

Gordons Saw Mill also object to the development given that it is so close to their premises and would lead to noise complaints. There is also an objection from the Highland Council's Environmental Health Department.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Nairn Film Festival underway with big Friday night turn out for Nae Pasaran

Nae Pasaran was an incredibly moving film seen by a full house in the Community and Arts Centre tonight. Details of this remarkable film here.

We had a wee blether with Séamus McArdle about the Festival and what else is on this weekend. More details on the Cinema Nairn site here. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Parking Charges policy continues to devastate Angus towns since introduction of meters in November last year - a look into Nairn's future demise if Highland Council does the same here?

A look into the future at what Nairn will look like if our Highland Councillors allow parking meters in Nairn? "

"The small market towns of Angus are crying out for help from our Councillors to bring some vibrancy back to our town centres but Angus Council genuinely don’t understand the people and businesses requirements therefore Angus continues its downwards spiral."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Contractor appointed for £809,000 Nairn Courthouse revamp

One of our regular readers points us in the direction of a Highland Council press release. Our correspondent wonders if this expenditure is necessary in the current climate of cutbacks and the threat of parking charges in Nairn to raise money. There is no money we are told but perhaps this was coming down the tracks for a while and we imagine all or most of it is necessary - if anyone knows where to find the relevant Highland Council reports that led to this work please let us know and we will link to them. We regret that we are rather busy with other things at the moment and Gurn activity is on slow-burn so please if anyone has further information. Anyway here is the the Highland Council press release:

"The contract for refurbishment works including the removal and replacement of the existing viewing tower at Nairn Courthouse has been awarded by The Highland Council to Laing Traditional Masonry Group (LTM Group).

The £809,000 project at the Category B listed Court House involves the renovation of the two-stage steeple, which is in poor condition, as well as internal and external works required. 

The Service Point and the Council offices will remain operational throughout the 48 week programme, which is anticipated to commence later this month.

The works will be project-managed by the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Service. The project has been progressed with assistance from LDN Architects, Fairhurst Engineers, McLeod & Aitken and Safehands Health & Safety Consultants Ltd.

Cllr Tom Heggie, Nairnshire Committee Chair said: “As part of the Council’s ongoing inspection regime, Nairn Members are delighted that this contract has been awarded. This demonstrates a significant investment by the Council in an iconic building in the heart on Nairn town centre. In contractors Laing Traditional Masonry we are also pleased that our treasured building will be well cared for, based on their excellent work already demonstrated at Inverness Town House.”

Work to erect scaffolding at Nairn Courthouse is anticipated to start on Sunday 17 February 2019."

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Nairn BID again writes to Cllr Tom Heggie on parking charges - still no promised consultation and decisions due to be made in next couple of weeks

Parking changes in Nairn - could you be affected? You have until 15th Feb to comment on consultation

This isn't the parking meter threat issue, this is simply one of the regular reviews of how the streets are managed. There are apparently some changes proposed. One of our regular readers informs us: "Acre Street is to be no parking at all, even for residents!"

We thought we'd better have a look at the proposals that are contained in a document with a series of maps for Nairn. Here's a snapshot of one of them.



"Any objection you may have to this proposal must be submitted by 15th February 2019, in writing to the Legal Manager, Council Offices, Glenurquhart Road Inverness IV3 5NX"

2018 Further rollout of Decriminalised Parking Enforcement - Statutory Consultees information
The following locations link to map based Traffic Regulation Orders detailing on-street waiting and loading restrictions to be delivered by The Highland Council (Prohibition and Restriction of Waiting and Loading and Parking Places) (Decriminalised Parking Enforcement and Consolidation) Variation Three Order 2018."

The sad loss of Alan Barron

Yesterday James Barron announced on the Nairn Social media site "Nairn Rocks":

 "It is with tremendous sadness that I have to announce that Alan Barron, beloved father, grandfather and brother died peacefully in the small hours of this morning(Tuesday 5th of February) at Nairn town and county hospital. He will be greatly missed, not only by his family, but by Nairn in general."

Tributes are being made on Nairn Rocks here. 

One of our regular readers David told the Gurn: "It is with great sadness that we all learned today of the passing of Alan Barron, he will be a great loss to the community of Nairn.

Could you feature a mention on the Gurn in memory of one of the most loveable, knowledgeable and sociable Nairnites of the last few decades? He was a remarkable man, full of vigour, an encyclopedic knowledge of Nairn and its history and yet not boring or academic, full of life and a wonderful sense of humour. I will always remember his affectionate giggle and the way his face lit up when a new fact or subject came to his notice.

He will be greatly missed, there are few now of his ilk and character, a shame, as we need them now more than ever."

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Fantastic craic on Nairn High Street today with Chinese New Year Celebrations

Fantastic craic on the High Street this morning with a Chinese Lion Dance performance by Glasgow's Hong Lok Dragon and Lion Dance to celebrate Chinese New Year.  More images here. 




Monday, February 04, 2019

Quite a lot going on in the Nairn twittersphere these days folks, we'll post anything interesting we see here via the Gurn twitter page

If there's not much being posted here it's worth having a look at the Gurn twitter account. Quite a lot happens in the Nairn twittersphere these days and you can scroll down the wee twitter boxie on the right hand side as far as you like to see what the latest craic is. You don't have to have an account to look at tweets either. 

Friday, February 01, 2019

Cinema Nairn - 10th anniversary Film Festival 15th -17th February 2019





Another housebreaking in the Lochloy area

Green Budget Deal: John Finnie MSP Secures funding package for Highland

The Scottish Greens this morning (31 Jan) confirmed agreement has been reached with Scottish Ministers on a significant package of immediate budget changes and bold long-terms reforms to boost the funding of local council services such as schools and social care.

Ahead of tonight's Stage 1 vote on the Budget, Scottish Government Ministers are promising that in return for Green support they will amend their spending plans. Compared with the plans set out in the SNP’s budget in December, local councils will have access to a package worth over £200million to spend as they see fit.

Today’s deal will mean Highland Council will have a funding package worth up to an extra £8.6 million as a direct result of the Green deal.

When combined with existing local revenue powers, this will close the £237m gap in council funding, identified by the local government body COSLA.

Ministers have also agreed to a timescale for replacing the broken, unfair Council Tax system. This will be developed by a cross-party process starting before the summer, and legislation will be published before the end of this session of parliament. They have also committed to giving councils greater fundraising powers including the ability to charge a visitor levy, as is commonplace in other European cities and regions.

Council bosses had described the SNP Government's proposed budget for 2019-20 as bad news, putting at risk the delivery of essential services. Green MSPs have pressed hard for a fairer funding settlement along with a commitment to scrap the Tories' unfair and outdated Council Tax.

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie said:

"The public rely on local services such as schools and social care, and local facilities such as sports centres and libraries. Today's Green budget deal means that Highland Council now has an additional £8.6 million to protect these services and the jobs of front line workers.

"It's welcome that after consistent Green pressure the SNP Government has seen sense and committed to immediate action and longer-term reform.

"Scottish Greens will always be firm but constructive in these situations. Scrapping the Tories' Council Tax is a historic victory. All parties now have an opportunity to help bring about a fairer system of funding essential local services.

"On top of recent reforms to Income Tax, today's deal shows yet again Scottish Greens are leading the change, making Scotland the fairer country we know we can be."