Home   News   Article

Hopes rise on way forward for Local Place Plan for Nairn

By Donald Wilson

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
Nairn West and Suburban Community Councillor Dr Alastair Noble, chairman of Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (NICE) and Nairnshire Area Leader Councillor Michael Green.
Nairn West and Suburban Community Councillor Dr Alastair Noble, chairman of Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (NICE) and Nairnshire Area Leader Councillor Michael Green.

A way forward to prepare a Local Place Plan for Nairn is to be pursued by the town’s community in collaboration with Highland Council.

After years of rancour between community councillors and Highland Council, the watchdogs have been told by Nairnshire area leader Michael Green that funding is now available for Nairn to draw up its Local Place Plan (LPP).

Cllr Green said the pledge came from infrastructure and environment chief executive Malcolm Macleod who was urging the community to press on with the LPP to determine how locals wish to see Nairn developed.

At the November meeting of Nairn River Community Council, attended by representatives of Nairn West & Suburban Community Council, the area leader said the task now was to establish who would take the lead on behalf of the community and acknowledged there was considerable local knowledge within the room.

“But it will be up to Highland Council using due diligence to examine the structures and constitutions of local bodies to determine who best should be the lead agency in driving the LPP forward which will ultimately be prepared by council planners but based on local views.”

Chairman of the Nairn Improvement Community Enterprise (NICE), Dr Alastair Noble, made the case for NICE to take on the role.

He said he did not believe it was appropriate for Highlands and Islands Enterprise to be the lead “because they have done nothing for Nairn for over 40 years”.

He asserted that NICE, which currently includes directors from both community councils, was the only body with necessary expertise and local knowledge.

Dr Noble said: “This is exactly what NICE was set up for. It’s about coordinating, not leading, the community’s response to get the town we want with sensible housing balanced with suitable infrastructure.”

Progress towards getting a LPP for the town comes as builders Springfield expressed their frustration that they will not be allowed to develop Nairn East until completion of the bypass.

There has been opposition to large scale housing development given concerns about Nairn’s lack of infrastructure.

Cllr Green said the inclusion of the moratorium on any house building at Nairn East in the revised IMFLDP was an important step.

The community councils had wanted the plan dropped completely but local HC members supported the plan subject to conditions that the bypass must come first and Grigorhill Industrial Estate be protected.

At the River CC meeting Chairman Hamish Bain said local Cllrs Green and Paul Oldham had promised before the May elections they would not support large scale development.

“Things have obviously changed. I believe at the time they ( Cllrs Green and Oldham) represented our residents view that further large developments were not wanted. People are still not happy.” he said. “The only comfort I have is there will be no building until it (the bypass) is delivered.”

Cllr Green said he recognised it would appear they had done an about turn on their pre-election pledges.

“I was totally opposed to the original IMFLDP as it would have allowed for large scale development in Nairn. Following protracted discussions between Cllr Oldham, myself and HC planners,we reached the collective decision to include in the plan, that there would be no development at Nairn East ahead of completion of the A96 Nairn Bypass.

“This allowed us to support the proposed plan and prevent the creation of a ‘plan vacuum ‘ which would have increased the likelihood of development.”

He stressed the amended IMFLDP would provide the council with a ‘robust’ mechanism to protect the site.

A group representing the Grigorhill businesses is also preparing submissions to look after their interests.

Nairn West & Suburban CC member Brian Stewart said there was no guidance in the IMFDLP about provision of amenities and protection for Grigorhill.

But Mr Stewart added because this was only a draft IMFLDP it would be possible to incorporate the infrastructure required and protection for future business expansion.

For these reasons he said he saw the decision by the council as ‘a step forward’.

Mr Bain said: “If it’s not in the plan it doesn’t exist.”

He said the amendments agreed by councillors do not go far enough.

“Businesses appear to be given encouragement to produce a second plan, in a very tight time-frame that may help them to survive. However, the residents of Nairn are still going to be lumbered with a huge development.”

He also had concerns that Highland Council will determine which group drives the LPP forward.

“It will be THC that will select the group and will insist on continuing to control Nairn to achieve their aims and not those of the people or the groups in Nairn.”

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More