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?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It maybe of interest to your readers to see the latest comments from the council's conservation officer who had objected previously. This has been copied from the planning portal.

Historic Environment Team (Conservation)
Comment Date: Thu 02 Jul 2020
It is very positive to see the adjacent historic buildings retained within the scheme. I note that some concern has been raised with regard to impacts on the Listed Building to the rear.

The listed building was originally built in the shadow of the (now demolished) Free Church to function as the church school, and was historically only visible by accessing the vennel, from where views of the principal elevation would open up as one passed the church. The listed building was not therefore originally intended to be visible from the east. As such the historic setting of the listed building would not be significantly affected by the proposed development. The proposed development could in fact be considered an appropriate response to the historic context of the listed building and that by repairing some of the original street pattern and associated vennel its wider setting is being partially restored. It is, however, also the case that since the demolition of the Free Church many have now become accustomed to less restricted views of the listed building; it is very attractive and contributes positively to Nairn's sense of place and historic identity and should be celebrated.

In conservation terms, I have no objection or significant concern regarding impacts to the setting of the listed building. However, as much as possible should be done to ensure sightlines towards the building, especially from the A96, are maximised and that the public realm improvements encourage access from the development to the High Street, passing the listed building so that it can continue to be enjoyed. Whilst appreciating that the 3D renders are indicative, to promote views along the lane to the listed building, my preference would be for planting to be restricted to low shrubs and hedging rather than trees, and I would rather the height of corner boundary wall was reduced.

Otherwise, the proposal is positive in that it respects and acknowledges its historic context and repairs and enhances the original layout, grain and rhythm of this part of Nairn