Thursday, July 23, 2020

King Street flats and CAB application - submissions to Highland Council's e-planning pages stacking up - including submission from a heritage architects firm in Edinburgh

This observer has just had a browse at the the Highland Council's e-planning pages for the King Street application file. There have been a number of submissions recently both in support and against the application and all those serious students of Nairn planning matters that have been paying attention to this matter may wish to go and read the latest material which can be found here both under the comments and documents tabs.

It will be interesting to see what attention Councillors from other parts of the Highlands will make of all this material when the decision is eventually made. It seems unfair perhaps that given there has been so much debate locally that councillors from elsewhere will be the ones that decide, but that is the nature of the Highland Council planning set-up

There are personal pleas for much needed housing and the CAB, worries about parking, more from the Community Councils and Nairn BID. One particular submission caught our attention this morning from Simpson and Brown architects, it reads:

"Mr John Sanders
Comment submitted date: Mon 20 Jul 2020

We have been commissioned to comment on this application on behalf of the Nairn Residents Concern Group and private individuals.

We object to this application due to the following concerns;

- that the conservation of the existing listed buildings and the stone buildings within this historic area has not been fully taken into account.
- The development could prevent or restrict the prospect of regeneration of the listed buildings on or near the site
- The design does not full respect the urban history of the site
- The proposed design is too large and high for the site and overshadows an existing listed building
- A bin store would be built against the wall of a listed building - this would damage its appearance and restrict beneficial future use

The regeneration project for central Nairn is clearly important. Regeneration of a historic urban area should start with the conservation of existing buildings of value. This must include listed buildings but should also include all stone buildings. The underuse, dereliction or demolition of these buildings would harm the historic character of the area. If these buildings are in good condition and in a sustainable use, then they enhance the character of the area in a way that no new building could achieve.

Effective and well considered planning for the regeneration of a historic area must enable a sustainable new use for the listed and other heritage buildings. A proposal which puts a further constraint on the already difficult to achieve conservation of existing buildings, is poor quality planning. We consider that it is vital that this application should include, in its design statement, an explanation of how this project aids or impedes the regeneration of the surrounding area. This should include an options appraisal for the school and police station buildings. This study should include an assessment of the possible uses of the buildings and the amenity, servicing, and parking requirements for each use. This kind of assessment is needed before the new building is designed. If the proposed building overshadows the existing buildings to the point that they could not be used for conversion to housing or offices, for instance, this consideration should guide the design to reduce overshadowing or proximity. If excavation or services trenches for the new building could also include the necessary upgrade to services for the existing buildings, then that would save money in the regeneration project overall.

The building only responds to the historic urban grain because it is a rectangular building set at right angles to the direction of the main street. In a historic context, understanding urban grain is essential before producing a design. It needs to be considerably more subtle than has been shown for this application. The ordnance survey maps of 1866 and 1904 show that the plots for houses on the High Street ran at 90 degrees to the street, as would be expected in any Scottish town. However, due to the high status of many of these houses, this grain was not particularly urban. The area around the free church and school was not developed apart from the gardens, and presumably, garden walls, until the late 19th century. For its first half century, the building would have been visible from the west and east. The development of the immediate area involved three major buildings - the Free Church of 1840, the Free Church School 1847, and the Police Station 1869-1902. This means that the two surviving buildings were two thirds of the total of the first and only generation of development of this backland to the north side of the High Street. Paramount in responding to the urban grain should be a respect paid to the surviving buildings which are now the only surviving record of this urban grain. Without them, we would have no above-ground physical record of the urban grain in this area, or of the character of development, or of the attractive sandstone used to build them.

John Sanders

Simpson & Brown Architects"


Anonymous said...

Very beneficial to read a submission from experts in this field. Many of the other comments are from individuals who have no idea whatsoever about the implications this monstrosity would have on our town centre.

Anonymous said...

It would appear from browsing through the revised Design Statement and other documents submitted that consideration has been given to the other buildings. The indicative Master Plan shows how the whole area could be developed with the Old Social Work Building retained and the B Listed Council Finance Office extended. This is the first step in achieving a wider regeneration. Of course old buildings are important, and this application keep all the old buildings. However, new modern buildings are able to sit beside old buildings in harmony (the new Community Centre, extension to the URC, the Kitchen restaurant in Inverness, etc.) providing new layers of history to our town. There are lots of new buildings in the centre of Edinburgh that are defiantly modern but add to the character of the city in a positive way. This has been acknowledged by the positive response from the Highland Council's Conservation Officer on the updated design, who was negative about the first design. We surely don’t want the town to be some sort of mock Victorian, Disney like theme park that is there only for the benefit of tourists as oppose to delivering for the needs of the town's residents first! Nairn needs to look confidently to the future and resist harping back to a rose tinted past that is never going to return.

Anonymous said...

This is to those who remember what Nairn looked like in the years before regionalisation. I was born and grew up in Nairn and our family never went on holiday because we had it all here. In the Glasgow Fair, relatives would come up from the smoke for their fortnight stay at the caravan site, and boy did they know how to enjoy the beauty of our wee town, we revelled in their excitement at what was every day to us.In the sixties and seventies Nairn was booming, the High Street was always busy and everyone knew everyone else. It was a great place to be and a great place to belong to. We were so proud of our beloved Nairn.

But time has moved on, no more the bustling High Street and the throngs of Glaswegians heading doon from the railway station with their cases on their shooders. Time has dealt us a bad deal through regionalisation, we have been left behind, forgotten, not worthy. Nairn is suffering badly, deteriorating in front of our eyes, and we all stand by and watch it happen. All that money being spent on Inverness and we get nothing. Nairn needs funding desperately to regenerate our town centre, and the people who can make that happen are not working for the good of Nairn. Let's wake up to what is really going on, let's take our town back, grab it and go with it. We have to make a stand now and make our own decisions. What we could do with THREE MILLION pounds!!! the cost of this new build.