2014 AGM Minute and Chair Report

Please use these links to access the Minute of the AGM held on the 29th Oct and the Chair’s Report.

AGM3 MINUTE 2014

Nice Chairman-2014

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Strategy Paper for River Nairn and Harbour

Following the meeting in the sailing club and other discussions, the importance to Nairnshire of its river, the harbour and beaches is more fully understood and is in need of thoughtful actions.

If we consider the area as a T with the river as the leg and the beaches as the cross we can start to understand how closely they are inter twinned. The beaches are supporting the Parkdean Caravan site, the 2 golf courses with walks to Culbin forest to the east and Fort George to the west. All are essential components of our tourist industry. It is also some of the best wetland /bird watching areas in Britain if not in all Europe

If we start with the River Nairn, it is virtually unspoiled by development on its banks. The trees and flood plain are like a Canadian wilderness. We must protect this wonderful ecology and quietness.

The gravel extraction for McDermott’s and some of the river stone placements have not helped.

Action points

No more gravel extraction from river bed.

Careful thought and restrictions on more pool engineering with SNH and SEPA input as well as Fisheries Board.

Walking path to Firhall with new Firhall Bridge.

Flood risk alleviation by extracting gravel at mouth of river /harbour basin

No extra pollution/storm water to be directed into River Nairn from future developments.

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Harbour

Massive tourist and leisure potential.

Sailing club, Kayak club both see great benefits from development of harbour area.

Harbour in urgent need of repair /rebuild.

If nothing is done it will disappear.

Action points

New harbour design with deep water outer harbour to allow for bigger marina/touring Scandinavian / German boats.

Extended east harbour wall to stop sand build up

Dredging of gravel sand at river’s mouth

Facility for sailing club/kayak club in new harbour design

Tourist attraction/restaurant/bar

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Flooding of Fishertown

Action points

Urgent action is needed to protect Fishertown conservation site from River and sea flooding

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Sewage

Action points

Sewage flooding in Fishertown /urgent action required

Sewage work malfunction/risk of bacterial pollution to bathing water quality

Smell risk to both caravan site and Nairn Dunbar golf club

New pipes to take sewage to sewage works

Other suggestions

Maggot boating pond/Kayak /sailing beginner’s training

Links potential/parking/transport to and from town centre

Putting green/children’s play area

Route from town centre to harbour along links and back up through Viewfield to town centre

Actions

HIE/Coastal/Fishing /Harbour money to buy capacity to get this done.

Professional engineering and architect input.

Dr Alastair L Noble

Chairman NICE

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Partnership – the Way Forward

We recently announced our Annual General Meeting to be held on the 29th Oct, 7.30pm in the Community & Arts Centre. There are some key issues on the agenda and we encourage as many of our 1000+ members as possible to attend. Around a year ago we were delighted that Highland Council declared their intention to work in partnership with us in the development of the Old Social Work Building. A valuation was sought and a price for its purchase agreed. However, our plans to work with an anchor tenant fell through at the last minute. We were therefore unable to submit our offer to buy within the alloted timetable. An extension to that timetable was refused and as a result we have struggled to fully understand what Highland Council meant by partnership working.

In all our discussion around town centre development with Highland Council and other town centre stakeholders, especially during the specially convened Charrette, there was general agreement on the way forward. Through the NICE survey many local residents also fed their ideas into the debate. The big issue to be faced – as it always has-  is how to convert these ideas into practical outcomes. We have yet to find a mechanism for working in partnership and it is increasingly clear that doing so is complex. We now recognise that whatever Highland Council agree, it is important that our local elected representatives also support partnership working.

We believe that the only way to make progress on the OSWB and town centre development in general is to sit round the table with our four local councillors and draw up an agreed agenda. This we have now agreed to do before the AGM. As a Community Development Trust we can bring certain things to the table that the local authority cannot so it makes perfect sense to work together. We look forward to our meeting and hope we’ll be able to define a use for the OSWB that will see it used for the benefit of the community.

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NICE Annual General Meeting 2014

NAIRN IMPROVEMENT COMMUNITY ENTERPRISE

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the third ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the above company will be held at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 29th October 2014 at the Nairn Community & Arts Centre for the purpose of the following business:

1 Welcome & Introduction
2 Apologies for Absence
3 Secretary’s Report
4 Chairman’s Report
5 Consideration of Accounts for year ended 30 November 2013
6 Election of Directors (under the Company’s Articles Campbell Mair, Graham Kerr & Matthew Hilton will be retiring and may offer themselves for re-election)
7 RESOLUTION to add postcodes IV2 7PJ and IV2 7SQ to Appendix 1 of the Company’s Articles.
8 Proposal to work with Nairn Citizen’s Advice Bureau for joint use of the Old Social Work Building.
9 Proposal to establish a subsidiary company to deliver the Sandown Park & Wetlands Project.
10 Discussion of “Developing a Partnership Approach” with Highland Council in relation to the recent Charrette for the Town Centre.
11 Any Other Business

Agenda items 8 – 10 are particularly important, and Members are encouraged to appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf if they are unable to attend in person. The appointment of a proxy should be made using this form - AGM PROXY2014 and be received by the Company Secretary by 7.30 pm on 27th October 2014.

A copy of the company’s Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 30th November 2013 are available here

DATED this 13th day of October 2014.
BY ORDER OF THE BOARD
Michael Barnett
Secretary
Company No: SC388110
Registered Office: Drumdelnies, by Nairn, IV12 5NT
mbarnett@macline.co.uk

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Partnership Working Would Be Nice

We recently reported that we had just secured sufficient grant funding to proceed with the purchase of the Old Social Work Building (OSWB) within the deadline set by Highland Council. The building would provide new toilets, a visitor information centre, a Museum taster exhibition and a couple of offices for local charities. Key to proceeding was the need to have an anchor tenant – a local business that would rent the greater proportion of the building and provide a sustainable future for the property. However, just prior to putting in our offer to Highland Council at the agreed market value, and without prior warning, our “anchor” tenant pulled out.

We were duty bound to advise our principal funder. They are very sympathetic to our situation, and have confirmed they will welcome a further application from us when we have found a replacement “anchor” tenant. As we are now unable to meet the deadline set by Highland Council to make an offer, we have been invited to a meeting with Officials on 10th September to discuss an extension.

When we began this journey we had an agreement with Highland Council that we would work in partnership over the development of the OSWB. More than once we have had reason to wonder what was meant by “partnership”. In fact, during the past few months of “partnership working” we have become increasingly aware of a determined effort to frustrate any proposals brought forward by NICE. It has now transpired that a majority of our local councillors did not support our request for a time extension. We find this baffling. NICE is a community initiative, conceived with councillor support around the table in the Court House; our current aims are underpinned by our members; our aims and goals are largely validated by the NICE survey and the recent Town Centre Charrette. Local democracy or community empowerment is not working as it should under current legislation and we struggle to understand why it is so difficult to work in partnership towards what is clearly a common goal.

However, we have drawn up the following proposal, within the context of further “developing a partnership approach” to Nairn’s town centre redevelopment. We have for some time been aware that Highland Council has to review the lease for the current location of Nairn’s Public Library as the current lease expires at the end of 2015. We therefore suggest that the OSWB would be a suitable property and ideal location in which to house the Library, at least on a medium term temporary basis until the ideal of a brand new, and perhaps “multi-purpose” community building can be achieved.

The building plans we drew up for the previous anchor tenant should lend themselves with only slight modification to house the Library – extending to at least 230sq metres over two floors with lift access to the first floor. It should be possible to complete the necessary refurbishment of the building by the end of 2015.

Putting the main use of the building to Library use would tick sufficient boxes to facilitate NICE obtaining grants towards the capital costs, which overall should reduce the cost of the operation to Highland Council. This would be a constructive first step towards the regeneration of Nairn town centre as envisioned at the recent Charrette, and bring the building into use as a “Gateway” which will encourage more visitors to stop and shop in Nairn.

The building would include a visitor information centre, public toilets, and dependent on the exact space requirement for the Library, it might be possible to provide office space one or more local charities and space for a small retail outlet such as a craft or gift shop.

A further exciting possibility is that NICE, by virtue of its status as a “Community Body” able to exercise the “Right-to-Buy”, could make a potentially very significant contribution to the future of the town centre by exercising such right over the Library building (once empty) and the adjacent Car Parking area. Both of these properties were the subject of considerable interest at the Charrette, and NICE would be in a position, in partnership with Highland Council and with the support of the local community, to really make a difference.

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We were almost there…!

For almost a year now, we have been working up a business case for the use of the Old Social Work Building. It has long been suggested that the building would make an ideal Gateway for the town centre. In calling for businesses to participate in the project we were contacted by a playgroup facility that was keen to expand their operation. We worked for many hours on an exciting plan; hammered out a funding package; produced detailed plans and got as far as obtaining builders quotes for the renovation of the premises.

We were ready to place an offer on the premises for a sum agreed with Highland Council, but just three weeks before our deadline 1st Steps Nursery decided to establish their expanded business in Rosebank Church. You may have seen details in the local press. While we wish them every success for the future it brought our well-developed plans to a sudden halt. As a result we will have to start again on a new business case, with the support of our funders, and have asked Highland Council for an extension to their deadline for an offer on the building. We hope that our local elected representatives will support NICE and the community in this request and that Highland Council will grant an extension.

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The Nairn Charrette – a NICE perspective

After two days of presentations, discussion, workshops and drawings with representatives from Highland Council, local business and residents, was it all worth it? There was an underlying feeling that, “we’ve been here before” – and it also became clear that some of the pre-charrette research by the team was inaccurate. But it has to be said that it was a very worthwhile exercise with lots of ideas coming forward, from a group of people still optimistic about the possibilities.

We were initially disappointed that the organisers of the Charrette made little note of the survey we recently undertook. But on reflection the NICE survey responses, if presented, might have coloured the thinking of those in attendance. What we see as being crucially significant is the fact that despite four different interest groups, including a group of our elected representatives, each working on their vision for the town centre, the general outcomes were remarkably similar. The Charrette conclusions fully underpin and validate what we in the community and in NICE have long believed to be true. We all agree in principle about what needs to be done!

Dealing with the state of the High St was top of the agenda. This chimes 100% with the statement recently issued by the newly formed New Nairn Initiative (NICE, VisitNairn, Assoc of Nairn Businesses, Nairn Access Panel) that stressed the need to address the state of our High St. Four individual, yet remarkably similar, plans were brought forward for the town centre around the Old Social Work Building (OSWB). All agreed on the need for a new town square; reconfigured parking; a civic hub; open space for events and markets, etc. It is re-assuring that these conclusions fit within what NICE outlined as a direction of travel some months ago. We can happily take on-board the many other ideas and they will fit easily within our broad vision and may enhance aspects of it.

The plans envisaged a day when the bypass was delivered (2025?) and all agreed that King St would be reconfigured as a tree-lined, shared-space to give Nairn a “green” feel much more in keeping with its reputed better climate.

There was an acceptance that the Council has to be more enabling, in fact, clear statements were made to that effect. They titled their vision “Shaped by the Community; Valued by all”. Isn’t this what we have all been arguing for? Sheena Baker of the ANB was quite vocal as she sought to gain assurances from Council officials. Lines of communication have, we believe, been opened for accessing the funding that is already there to enable some “quick fixes”.

Finally, the NICE survey gave local people a voice and following the Charrette few can disagree that, whether Highland Council, elected members, residents or businesses, we are all singing off the same hymn sheet. There may the odd discordant note but the direction of travel is most definitely agreed. Overall, NICE as a community group is on the right tracks. The Charrette proposals are very much in line with our current thinking and, largely, validate the ideas and concerns arising from the community. No one in authority countered the statement that NICE would pursue its proposals for the OSWB. Time now to work together and make it happen!
*We now await the final report and proposals from Halcrow (CH2MHill) for the community to consider. Meantime you can see the interim Action Plans for Nairn here.

**We had expected Ryden’s to make a presentation but some of their material was included in the overview presented by CH2MHill in their introduction. We have received a copy of that presentation which does include some of the NICE survey material, especially page 9 and you can see it here (Powerpoint file – 2.26Mb). Bear in mind that these are supporting visuals for a presentation that was never given.

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Town Centre Survey

As you may already know, Highland Council is holding a mini-Charrette in Nairn on the 30th April-1st May. It will have a clear focus on identifying the mechanisms for delivering and funding projects that will best deliver town centre regeneration. The town centre regeneration project will focus on Nairn town centre but will extend to include consideration of its relationship to other important parts of the town including the harbour, The Links, former farmer’s show field and future development areas. It also needs to address wider transport connections and the accessibility of shops and community facilities and services. It will form a consolidated plan for embracing change, delivering town centre regeneration and improvement and the integration of growth areas in the town.

As one of the partners in this consultation NICE invited the community to participate and prepared a survey to ascertain local views. The response has been very encouraging with 216 online responses and 90 hard-copy forms. A range of questions covered additional facilities and services that may or may not be advantageous and respondents were asked to rate these on a scale of 1-5. Subjects covered included parking, buses, taxis, cycles, access and regeneration. Responses have been converted to average weighted and give a clear picture of public views in relation to each of these issues. Questionnaire results here (xls spreadsheet).

Respondents were also asked to contribute their ideas under three main headings:

1) What Shops and Services would you like to see in the Town Centre and High Street that are not already there?
Online Survey Results here (.doc) – PDF Version

2) What additional tourist attractions and/or facilities would enhance Nairn as a destination?
Online Survey Results here (.doc) – PDF Version

3) Any additional comments, ideas or suggestions you’d like to make?
Online Survey Results here (.doc) – PDF Version

4) Combined Paper Survey Responses here (.doc) – PDF Version

At this stage results are presented as given. Time will be spent identifying trends in order to present the issues that are most keenly expressed in this survey.

We are grateful to everyone who made time to complete the survey and look forward to representing to the Charrette organisers, as best we can, the views that have been expressed in all these responses.

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TOWN CENTRE CONSULTATION

Introduction: Highland Council is planning to hold a mini-Charrette event in Nairn that will have a clear focus on identifying the mechanisms for delivering and funding projects that will best deliver town centre regeneration. This proposal is made by The Highland Council in partnership with a number of interested parties, including Community Councils and business groups in each town and plan to work closely with these groups to maximise the involvement of everyone concerned.

The town centre regeneration project will focus on Nairn town centre but will extend to include consideration of its relationship to other important parts of the town including the harbour, The Links, former farmer’s show field and future development areas. It also needs to address wider transport connections and the accessibility of shops and community facilities and services. It will form a consolidated plan for embracing change, delivering town centre regeneration and improvement and the integration of growth areas in the town.

As one of the partners in this consultation the directors of NICE invite the community to participate in this consultation exercise to express what they want the Town Centre to deliver in terms of services and facilities. This is within the area defined by Highland Council as NA7, bounded by the A96, the High St and Leopold St. However, alongside Highland Council, we do not wish to exclude adjacent areas such as the Harbour from consideration and we have prepared the survey questions with this in mind.

Please be mindful of what NICE perceives to be the overall objective – the regeneration of Nairn, more local residents, more employment in Nairn and more visitors. This consultation is ultimately about the community’s shared vision for Nairn and not at this early stage about how that is funded or achieved. We believe Nairn has a unique opportunity given that the Town Centre area is effectively an empty open space at present. In short, we have to plan for the future and the opportunity is there for us to be radical. So, tell us what you think.

This survey builds on NICE’s previous exercise last year. The main outcomes relevant to the Town Centre can be summarised as:
For goodness sake do something!
Nairn needs to offer more employment opportunities
Nairn’s beach is its greatest visitor attraction
A Visitor Information & Orientation Centre is essential to attracting more visitors to stop in Nairn.

Update: With regard to the Old Social Work Building we hope very soon to bring forward firm proposals for consideration by members.

It is important that local views are heard and we urge everyone who has an interest in Nairn’s future to complete the survey.

Click here to take survey

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Proposed Consultation About the Future of the Town Centre

NICE is delighted to have been nominated as a partner in Highland Council’s recent application for Scottish Government financial support towards the cost of a Charrette about the regeneration of Nairn Town Centre. Properly understood a charrette is an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan.

NICE believes that the time has come to tackle head-on some of the big issues facing the town centre. We believe it is important to gather local views and consult with the community and business groups to identify their aspirations for the services and facilities that a regenerated Town Centre should deliver.  We will therefore be launching a public consultation early in the New Year. The consultation will be performed in two ways – over the internet using SurveyMonkey, and also with hard copy printed questionnaires.  NICE has a membership of over 1000, and we will be communicating with members directly.
We will also be out on the streets of Nairn with hard copy printed questionnaires. So whether or not you can attend the charrette, you can rest assured that you’ll have the chance to contribute to an issue that is fundamental to the future of Nairn.

With every good wish for the festive season – along with the hope for progress in 2014.

The Directors of NICE

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