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New advice hub in Nairn opens its doors

By Donald Wilson

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The new CAB office and flats in Nairn town centre.
The new CAB office and flats in Nairn town centre.

The new Citizen’s Advice Bureau suite in Nairn has opened its doors.

And incorporated in the complex is 12 affordable apartments allocated for rent by Highland Council.

The CAB development means a relocation from their existing High Street premises and incorporates a new IT suite which has been part funded by Nairn Rotary Club.

The development has been the centre of a lot of controversy with local community councils opposed to the project. Their vision was to redevelop the neighbouring disused former social work offices for tourist purposes and to use the land where the new building is located for parking for coaches to attract footfall to the town centre.

The council have also been accused of misdirecting £198,000 from a town centre regeneration fund towards the £3.2 million scheme without consultation.

A complaint has been upheld by the Ombudsman but the council has lodged an appeal.

The project however received backing from former Nairn Area Chair, the late Tom Heggie who came in for considerable criticism over his support for the flats and CAB project and developing Sandown which would have created further social housing for the community,

Housing and property chair of Highland Council, Cllr Glynis Sinclair said: “Affordable, sustainable and energy efficient housing is a priority for council as it enables people to stay within rural communities, allowing them to prosper and grow and in turn support wider economic growth.

“There is a particular need for one and two bed properties and with 12 now allocated for council rent in the centre of Nairn. It brings much needed affordable accommodation to the area. The development has transformed an area of the town that was needing a new purpose and with the addition of the CAB office, offers a new fully functioning community hub at a time when it’s never been needed more.”

Housing secretary Shona Robison said: “It is wonderful to see these homes completed, supported by £700,000 of Scottish Government funding. This development will make a real and lasting difference to the lives of the residents by providing much needed warm and affordable homes while providing support to the local community through the new Citizens Advice Bureau.”

Nairn CAB chair, Brenda Waterfield said: “We are delighted to receive the keys to our new purpose built CAB office and IT suite. The new premises is a wonderful asset for the community, providing a warm, safe, and welcoming environment for all users.

“The current cost-of-living crisis and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted all our lives and the new challenges we face on a daily basis has given rise to the need for additional support. That’s why Nairn CAB is here: to give people a welcoming place to receive confidential advice – whoever they are, and whatever their problem. We look forward to seeing many residents over the coming months.”

Nairn committee chair, Cllr Michael Green said: “Twelve new flats to the council rental stock in Nairn is very welcome, given the shortage of affordable housing within the area. In addition, the need for the services offered by CAB is even more necessary in this turbulent and challenging time that we are all experiencing. I wish all the new tenants and CAB the very best in their new homes and look forward to visiting soon.”

The project includes the pedestrianisation of Courthouse Lane to provide a pedestrian route, via the crossing on the A96, between the High Street and the community centre, sports centre, police station, museum, and other local facilities.

Additional work to surrounding car parks has been carried out to maximise parking availability and to re-site the electric charging points. The 12 flats have been allocated to tenants and they will all receive the keys to their new homes over the coming week.

Nairn CAB are busy moving in and will be ready to open their doors to the public on Thursday 1 December 2022, and an official grand opening will be announced shortly. The development was assisted by a £700,000 grant from the Scottish Government - More Homes Scotland Fund and Bancon Construction the main contractor.

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