Monday, June 29, 2020

King Street twists and turns - a planning application that just keeps getting more and more curious...


The application for flats and an office on the King Street parking spaces plus the accompanying demolition of the OSWB (old social work buildings) has already built itself up into an impressive file on the Highland Council e-planning site with the various documents of objection and the changes to the application itself. Latest up is an updated transport assessment submitted by the Council's consultants on the behalf of the Council plus a couple of design statement documents. 

The stuff you normally see at the start of the application process but such has been the gravity of issues raised in the process that it seems a lot has had to be adjusted. A quick look into the design statement reveals: 

“This Design Statement has been updated along with the other relevant information as a result of feedback from the consultation process. The principle change to the project is that the Old Social Work building will now not be demolished as part of this planning application” 

So what now for the OSWB? Still to come down at a later date? that does seem to have been the desire of Glenurquhart Road for some time despite the survival of the OSWB having been integrated into the existing town centre plan after an expensive consultation paid for by the Scottish Government.  An interesting juncture then for the plan by the new Nairn “powerhouse” team of the town's Community Councils, BID and Nice, to repurpose the OSWB? More here. 
One of our regular readers who alerted us to new goings on the e-planning pages told us that in his opinion: “the application has already gone through three revisions, a couple of site-relocations, and a redesign....the proposal is out of line with the agreed town centre plan; it significantly reduces the parking capacity in the area; and it screws up any more comprehensive town centre regeneration scheme” 

With the Covid-19 emergency it has been harder for the planning process to proceed effectively given the restraints on meetings and perhaps too the need to be as transparent as possible enters into choppy waters given the temporary arrangements at Glenurquhart road during the crisis. Given that the Council are prosecution, judge and jury in this case (applicant, planning authority and developer on the project) - Their vested interests mean that under planning legislation they are required to be extra scrupulous in how they deal with this.

Here at the Gurn we feel there is room for critics to suggest that this is now an entirely new application and should be resubmitted and considered in a post-Covid environment. They would argue that this is necessary so that we get it right for the town and the Council cannot then be in anyway accused of rushing things along at an inappropriate time with an application that has become a bit of a quagmire. 

This is an important and controversial planning application, if you have any spare time on your hands then make a cuppa or pour a dram and catch up with all the latest documents here on the Highland Council planning site. It's your town, have you had your say yet?

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