Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Sandown - "The Sale of the Century"? - and thoughts on development - Comments on a previous article worthy of a read

 Not all readers keep up with comments that come in, sometimes we turn them off if people get a bit heated or there is imformation that we are unable or don't posses the time or resources to confirm but here are the comments so far from this article - Gurnites may find them very interesting at a time when we have two ongoing consultations concerning the Local Development Plan and the Highland Council desire to sell the Sandown Lands:

Anonymous said...

Nairn is already overcrowded enough with the current infrasctructure.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of all the sites in Nairn for a large scale housing development, built over the next 10 years, Sandown (NA03) is the only natural site for this use. The land at Sundown has arrived at this status party because of the development of housing at Wyvis Road, Moss-side Road and Moss-side Drive. It is highly unlike that these house would be even allowed now as they are essentially ribbon development in hinterland setting which is considered very bad planning. Therefore, if these house had not been built these field would not be as open to development. However, the current layout of roads and development make the Sundown the ideal place to build many houses and round of the town to the West. This would help balance the distribution of people as all recent development has extended the town East. The fact the the High Street, all schools and the majority of services are West of the river makes active travel etc. much more achievable. The town centre lends itself to development of 1/2 bedroom flats but not family homes for both the social/private sector. The history of Nairn, especially since the Victorian period, is one of steady consistent growth and this trend must continue to ensure the long term sustainability of the town. The fact the house prices are above average and Lochloy is almost built out shows that demand is their. Nairn folk should be delighted that many people wish to base themselves here and join our vibrant community!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that you are correct and that'll be why developers are keen to purchase the ground - even if it does have a long-blocked field drain.
If the price is right and if the planning process ensures a good standard of housing, then the Nairn Common Good fund would be well-placed to puchase and develop some of the less attractive buildings in the town centre.
The more economically active young people and families that are able to settle in Nairn the better the future will be for all of us.
Hundreds are on the waiting list for Council Housing. Sandown could help to rebalance Nairn's footprint.

Anonymous Stop the sale of the Century said...

Well Anon, there is indeed a large housing waiting list but is in not the case that the largest number on that list are those wishing single person's accommodation? How much of that do you see developers and Councils building? How many on the waiting list live in Nairn too? Sandown is the only new large site that the Council wishes zoned for development - that would be a happy coincidence for anyone contemplating the sale of the land wouldn't it? I'm sure most people have no objection to a start on social housing being built on that land but don't wish to piss the asset away to a single developer in the "Sale of the Century" just now. How about letting some of the people that are living in this town in considerably less than "vibrant" conditions at the moment get some housing before we indulge the private developers again!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Sandown not the only site left because every other proposed site has been objected to? Maybe I missed the others that you are thinking of?
I like the look of Tornagrain and a development of that kind on Sandown and out to the Arderseir turn off makes sense.
Otherwise we'll not be the Brighton of the North, we'll be the elderly care capital of the North.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said "Stop the sale of the Century" There are any number of empty first floor properties in the centre of town that HC could buy, renovate and allocate to either single folks or couples to occupy. . They can do it in Inverness but strangely not in Nairn. Our Councillors say it is because folks either will not sell or want too much money for them. There is always compulsory purchase available to HC if all else failed but then they would need to be determined to make it happen!

Surely the Sandown question is - should the town hand over, in one fell stroke, permission for HC to sell off Sandown or heaven forbid - allow HC to buy it themselves and landbank it....! Our Councillors are also the Trustees of the Common Good and could easily say no to this consultation but are they independent of the Council enough to do so? Or are they conflicted?

Why plan to put housing in a known water prone area.Would you want to live on an land known to have serious drainage problems after all there is a natural spring in the field!

If there is a housing need and folks want more building there could be a sale or lease of a small proportion of the land on the field next to the allotments, makes perfect sense as it is sandy and well drained BUT if that is to be the final outcome please, please do ensure it is done in a way which maximises income for the Common Good long term. Please do think it through.

The Sandown Consultation is about very much more than housing and folks who think it isn't need to do some serious reading. The towns heritage could be up for sale once gone that would be it!

Anonymous toon loon said...

Well, Anon of 10:27 pm makes some thoughtful observations. But many of the comments are misguided.

It is not axiomatic that "large scale development" is the priority requirement or the right way forward for the Sandown land. Much local evidence suggests that the demand for smaller-scale, smaller-size housing and flats closer to the town centre is far greater than the need for standard-design identikit developer-housing in suburban estates on the periphery. That developer-led pattern is lucrative (for the developer) but now discredited as a planning approach. The placemaking philosophy, changing lifestyles, and greater awareness of the need for modal shift towards more energy-efficient travel, all make uniform large-scale housing estates - as seen south and east of Inverness, and indeed at Lochloy/Kingsteps, obsolete.

Local evidence has underlined that adequate infrastructure is critical. It is not enough to say that Sandown is "ideal" for access into the town. There are major challenges over water supply and especially drainage and sewage (which will have to be piped to Ardersier). Lochloy is already suffering from access and infrastructure issues. We are all familiar with the traffic congestion on the A96 through town, and the Riverside/Fishertown flood risks. It will do Nairn no good to have that replicated on the west side of town.

The arguments of "balancing" East and West and "rounding off" the town are superficially attractive but totally spurious. There is no urban-planning logic in building an extensive housing estate on the west side of town simply because there is already a massive (near 1000 units) development at Lochloy/Kingsteps. Two bad planning decisions don't add up to one good one. There is a major urban-design debate still to be had about the future shape of the town, whose centre of gravity is already being shifted by the consent to retail activity at Balmakeith. The (eventual!) delivery of the A96 bypass will radically alter the way the town functions and have a significant effect on development-thinking.

These points underline how the Sandown-sale proposal is skewing the debate. The issue is not "large-scale housing or nothing". Nor is it a matter of being pro-or anti-development. The problem is that there has been no proper discussion. There has been no local, public, community debate about what the best use of the Common Good land might be, and how best to make use of this hugely valuable asset. There are very many ways in which Sandown could be "developed" for the benefit of the local community. But no menu of alternative options is on the table.

When so much is at stake (and not just in a financial sense, but in terms of the future character and viability of the town) simply selling Sandown off on the grounds that housing is needed and that is the most convenient site does the town a grave disservice. What happens to Sandown will determine how Nairn will evolve in the next 20-30 years. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly or without careful contemplation of all possible alternatives.



Anonymous said...

My original comment is “10.27” so just wanted to clarify some of my points. Just because I advance the idea that Sandown should be developed that does not mean that I am in favour of a mass housing development like Lochloy. What I am trying to stablish is that the principle of development at Sandown is a strong one when all other sites are considered. I would encourage folk to study Accordia in Cambridge (https://fcbstudios.com/work/view/accordia) as an example of how sites could be developed - that is just one example but shows how things can be done differently. I do not favour Prince Charles type developments like Poundbury or Tornagrain as they favour traditional aesthetics as a substitute for searching for an approach that is of its time and place. There will be some technical matter to be resolved on the Sandown site, as with any site, but a spring can be accommodated and used for SUDS in a site layout and road infrastructure improved. Planning policy dictates that 25% of the houses will have to be affordable so that could be a mix of flats and family homes. If the town can come to terms with the fact that the site can be developed, perhaps the council needs to lead on a master planning exercise before the site is sold so that high quality place making is part of any deal. As Accordia shows this can benefit all and should not be seen as quality vs profit - it is very achievable to have a positive outcome for all involved which is only good for Nairn.

P.S It is great that fellow Nairn folk are prepared to engage and debate in a rational and considered way.

toon loon said...

Like the still-Anonymous 10:27, I too welcome the willingness to engage and debate. Indeed that was the central point of my earlier comment: the local community has not been able to do so. The present proposition does not offer adequate opportunity to explore the full range of options - including radical alternatives.
There are indeed a host of possible models - not just Accordia or Tornagrain - that might be relevant.
But it is not just about style, taste or architectural aesthetics. There are a couple of other points that are equally important. One, Sandown does not have to be sold in order to be developed. Why sell? There are innumerable examples where a community has planned, developed and retained ownership of Common Good land. It's about imaginative long-term planning and vision, not just the claims of short-term housing need. Why could the community of Nairn not enable and undertake development to meet whatever the local priorities and outcomes are agreed to be, while continuing to own the land - and indeed to derive ongoing, long-term income from it?
Two, development does not equal housing, whether affordable or not. Especially these days, good placemaking and quality of life is about all sorts of other needs and benefits as well as four walls and a roof. Green and natural space, communal facilities, shops, recreation, and much else. Nairn will not prosper if the only 'development' is housing - with or without better roads and drains.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 3:31 PM

Some interesting comments but Sandown land will be sold to the highest bidder who in turn will build properties that will return the most profit.

Affordable housing is a turn of phrase and means nothing in reality, what exactly is 'affordable'.

All developers are welcomed with open arms by councils, more income for the local area even though developers rarely contribute to local infrastructure and sometimes don't even manage to get services adopted (witness some developments at Lochloy)

Sewerage from Sandown is likely to go to Ardersier, who pays for that?

Selling Common Good land marks an end, no more income. How will the community pay for anything it needs in say 10 years time when Sandown is gone, and is it's sale legal?

Why does the community not have more say in our Common Good land, is it right that the golf course just pay £12 rental

It's a mess and selling Sandown won't solve it, we need much more discussion than Highland councils consultations