Published: 08/08/2006 00:00 - Updated: 25/11/2011 23:38

A96 corridor may house extra 9000

PLANS for another multimillion pound commercial and residential development in the A96 corridor have been unveiled, exerting further pressure on the need to upgrade the road from Inverness to Nairn. The Earl of Cawdor launched ambitious proposals which could double the size of Nairn over the next 10 to 15 years, restoring the seaside resort to its former glory as "the Brighton of the North", expanding the town to the south and west. The plan, entitled A New Future for Nairn, joins proposals for new communities at Tornagrain and Whiteness, east of Inverness, comprising thousands of new homes. Campaigners hope it will add further momentum to their attempts to convince the Scottish Executive to dual the route. Lord Cawdor said yesterday his scheme had the potential to help fund a by-pass road around Nairn through private sector investment, which was not currently included in Executive policy. The development, to the south-west of Nairn, could potentially double the town's existing 9000 population. It would also include a new golf course on the sandy links bordering Nairn Golf Club's existing championship course and green parkland areas. "With the A96 masterplan discussions, the planners have created a wonderful opportunity for people to advance some bold proposals - Whiteness and Tornagrain being two conspicuous examples - and this is very rare," the Earl said. "Nairn in many ways has the most to offer of all the possible sites in the A96 Corridor, not least because it already actually exists, but I am concerned its future will be threatened if the town fails to achieve a critical mass that it doesn't have at the moment." He warned that Nairn was in danger of being left behind as Inverness continued its rampant development. "Nairn stands to lose out if it doesn't embrace the opportunities being considered by the planners. I'm particularly thinking of the resurrection of Nairn as a shopping destination," he went on. Nairn's Provost, Councillor Sandy Park, reacted positively to the scheme. "Generally, I would look forward to Cawdor Estates' proposals, which seem very much in line with the Halcrow Report on the A96 Corridor development and very much along the lines I'm keen to see the western approaches of Nairn developed," he said. "We've spent many years seeking proposals for the redevelopment of Nairn, including a bypass, and now, at last, things are beginning to happen." The New Future sees a substantial increase in population underpinning a turnaround in the town's fortunes, bringing new "destination" shops into the town centre. Developers say it should also act as a catalyst for additional facilities and new jobs in both the industrial and commercial sectors and tourist facilities, including the potential for further hotels. Lord Cawdor, a qualified architect, said the buildings proposed would be individual in character. "Architectural design would draw from Scottish ideals and I see the original layout and designs of the fishertown of Nairn as a source of possible inspiration and influence," he added. The New Future could involve 1000 acres of Cawdor Estate land west of Nairn, along with land in other private ownership. * Upgrading the A9 and A96 is expected to be a key commitment in the Scottish National Party's forthcoming manifesto. During a visit to Inverness, party leader Alex Salmond pledged improvements after he was forced to endure two long journeys on the A96 in quick succession. "How any Scottish administration can be in power for seven years and not address the state of that dirt track of a road that is meant to connect two of our greatest cities is beyond me," he said. "It is intolerable that this has been allowed to happen and this road's improvement will be an early priority for the SNP." What's in the pipeline Whiteness: on former Barmac oil fabrication yard, near Ardersier. Detailed plans for a 4500 population village and a 500-berth marina postponed in June but will be considered by Highland Council in September. Tornagrain: near Inverness Airport. Very early stages of a new town for 10,000 people. In September a team of US architects and Highland planners will take part in a week-long public brainstorming session which will lead to a masterplan. Castle Stuart: near Inverness Airport, at Balnaglack and Lonnie Farms. First stage already under construction for two 18-hole golf courses, a driving range and clubhouse, a 57-bedroom hotel, 28 apartments, a spa and leisure complex, 120 timeshare units and conversion of a farmhouse into offices. Ardersier: 114 new homes worth £12 million lodged with the council by Tu lloch on 14-acre greenfield site in Nairn Road. Lochloy, Nairn: on-going development for hundreds of homes. Currently Kylauren Homes, on the Balmakeith site, proposes 50 new houses and apartments. Sandown, Nairn: Highland Council recently rubber stamped a compensation deal to allow 90 acres to be sold developers. No plans published. calum.ross@inverness-courier.co.uk

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