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Highland Council rejects plan for assisted living homes in Nairn

By Scott Maclennan

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Nairn was to get FIT homes like these.
Nairn was to get FIT homes like these.

A PLANNING application by the Albyn Housing Society for an ambitious proposal to install a new generation of advanced assisted living homes in Nairn has been rejected amid fears of noise pollution disrupting tenants’ lives.

The decision was made at Highland Council’s south planning applications committee after a site visit which found that the noise from the nearby sawmill was so great that many councillors could not hear what was being said.

The so-called FIT Homes are one of the products of the City-Region Deal and aim to provide greater independence and release hospital beds for people with a variety of medical needs.

A total of 10 single bedroom FIT homes were to be built on land just north of the Hermitage, St Olaf Manor, Cawdor Road to provide accommodation for tenants with various medical needs that allows them to be supported while maintaining their independence.

Helen Cameron, asset and investment manager at Albyn Housing, did not agree that the noise would have been overwhelming for residents but despite that there was now little hope that a new site could be found in Nairn.

“It was loud at the site, I agree with that and I understand that that activity does happen but not every day and not all day,” she said.

“What I would say is the acoustician that we used is a professional who did the objective testing and we were satisfied that the mitigation we were proposing would reduce it to an acceptable level. There are limited options.

“This site was ideally located – apart from the sawmill of course – because of the way the homes work in conjunction with the hospital and the GPs.

“It is likely we will struggle to find a site within Nairn – we have a limited amount of time to deliver the FIT homes project, so it is unlikely we will be able to identify something in Nairn.”

Nairn and Cawdor councillor, Laurie Fraser, said: “FIT homes are to take care of tenants who have various medical needs – if you have medical needs then you are usually looking for peace and quiet not a sawmill.

“I wonder, have the planning taken into account the full impact of the environmental health in relation to noise, and it is not going to be possible to achieve these limits on this site. And they employ 90 in the sawmill – we really can’t afford to lose a sawmill.”

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