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Sandown plans go back to residents for their input

By SPP Reporter

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Nairn - where residents will be asked their views on Sandown
Nairn - where residents will be asked their views on Sandown

A NEW Masterplan for a key piece of development land in Nairn is set to include up to 350 homes and will be drawn up with help from the community.

The blueprint for Sandown, the wedge of publicly-owned land on the western outskirts of the town, will be prepared by Highland Council and the community despite no developer coming forward to show interest in the site.

Details of public workshops, which will form part of the consultation process, still have to be finalised in a move which follows Deveron Homes’ failed bid to win planning consent to build 550 homes, along with business units and leisure facilities on the Nairn Common Good land.

"We want something which is attractive and relevant to this place," said Nairn councillor Graham Marsden. "We will be looking at something in the region of 300 to 350 houses ultimately, but whether we have a business park or not has to be decided."

The approach will allow the community to raise ideas and could help avoid the situation which arose over Deveron’s plan which attracted more than 200 objections and was branded a weapon of mass construction.

"We need to have as greater an involvement with the community as we can," Councillor Marsden added. "It means then that the community and the council have a plan for the area and it is up to developers to conform to that masterplan."

The council refused planning permission for Deveron’s development on several grounds, including over-development and a significant departure from planning policy. The decision was upheld by the Scottish Government following a public inquiry after an appeal.

Deveron had agreed to buy the land after a 2007 bid in excess of £14 million, subject to planning permission being granted. More than £2 million from the sale was earmarked to pay off a loan from the town’s Common Good Fund towards Nairn Community Centre, which opened four years ago.

Councillor Marsden stressed it was more important to get the plans for Sandown right, rather than rush them to pay off the loan.

Deveron has since indicated it no longer considers the project viable due to a fall in land values, triggering the council to draw up a development brief in an attempt to gain Scottish government help but the bid to be part of a project where communities become more involved in design and planning was unsuccessful this week.

Malcolm Macleod, the council’s development plans manager, was disappointed by the decision but insisted public workshops will still go ahead and significant progress is expected by the end of the year.

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