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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A possible future for the Old Social Work Building

The following is, in effect, the conclusion of a longer document that charts the twists and turns that have brought us to this point. See the complete paper for full details and background. We welcome your response to these proposals.


We believe that the optimum solution for the Community of Nairn is to put the building to a combination of uses which together meet the following criteria:

The building meets the immediate needs of visitors and acts as a “Gateway”;
There is a large Social Enterprise component;
The building costs are under-pinned by a commercial tenant whose business contributes to the Community;
The proposed use of the building optimises the prospects of obtaining grant funding for the development costs.

Whilst commercial use of the whole of the western half of the building is attractive from the financial perspective and would enhance the attractiveness of the building to visitors, we believe that it would make sourcing grant funding challenging. Informal reaction from the Big Lottery, for example, to our Feasibility Study Report which referred to café/bistro/retail use, suggests this might be the case.

We believe instead that the better way forward is to explore with the entrepeneur and two charities mentioned whether we can in collaboration find a solution that suits us all. We have in mind in particular that the building could be configured in the following way:

The Eastern Half of the Building at Ground Floor Level

Retain the Old Police Cells as a visitor attraction – a “mini” museum.
Demolish the existing toilet block and provide high quality public toilets which are supervised during the building’s opening hours.
Provide a fully staffed visitor reception desk to (a) deal with the simplest queries; (b) direct tourist visitors to a high tech visitor orientation facility adjacent to the reception area; (c) direct visitors requiring specialist help to such facilities (located on the first floor of the western half).
Ideally the reception area could be expanded into the western half of the building to enable space for a small internet café selling teas & coffees.

The Eastern Half of the Building at First Floor Level

Office space for at least one local voluntary organisation including NICE itself

The Western Half of the Building at Ground Floor Level including the Rear Courtyard Area

A long lease for the provision of a high quality wrap-around child care facility by a local entrepeneur. Depending on the mutual requirements the sharing of the total (east and west) ground floor space might have to be negotiated. If, as suggested in our Feasibility Report, the rear extension is best demolished and replaced, then the facility could enjoy a state-of-the art designed extension that would make the space really exciting.
The lease would include the existing courtyard as the basis for a secure outdoor play area, with the option of extending this on to the footprint of the demolished toilet block.

The Western Half of the Building at First Floor Level

Specialist facilities provided by the other local voluntary organisation. We deliberately avoid going into detail because this would risk their identity being discerned.


Each occupier would bear their share of direct costs (eg heat, light, I.T. & telephones).

One or both of the local voluntary organisations would undertake supervision of the building for at least 6 days a week – responsibility for opening and closing and dealing with day-to-day running issues. In return they would pay below market rate rent.

The childcare facility would pay a full market rent, which would underpin the overall budget model enabling NICE to fund its own costs and building maintenance. These costs would include staff costs for “out-of-hours” opening – a “must” particularly in the main tourist season.

NICE would seek to generate as many small income streams as possible – eg from local businesses, B&Bs and hotels for the visitor information service; the profits from selling teas & coffees and other visitor requisites (eg maps); running a Nairn visitor website.


NICE met with Chief Executive and other executives of Highland Council on 4 November to discuss “partnership working” and the immediate way forward in the light of the proposals described in this Report.

The Highland Council executives confirmed that subject to formal Council approval they supported the “Gateway” concept of use for the building, and that they would recommend to the Council that NICE could buy the building from Highland Council if NICE paid the agreed open market value for the property. If NICE wants to buy the property at a discount to that value, then the Asset Management Project Board has to confirm the requirements of the relevant statute are met, and it would be for that committee to make a recommendation or otherwise to the Council.

It was agreed that NICE and Highland Council would jointly instruct the District Valuer with the aim of achieving an agreed market value, and NICE would then consider its position as regards purchase of the building. The meeting was constructive, and in particular the property will not be put back on the market while NICE progresses the valuation discussions.

Having put this supplemental report in the public domain, NICE invites the Community through its elected representatives to approve the basic approach. NICE will progress the District Valuer valuation and negotiations with Highland Council and will also begin discussions with the parties identified with a view to working up detailed proposals for use of the building. NICE confirms it is committed to further public consultation before any final decisions are made.

12 November 2013

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NICE returned to its roots for a brainstorming session

NICE grew out of public meetings held originally in the Sailing Club. It returned to that venue once more last night (11th Nov) to meet with members of the Kayak Club, the Sailing Club, harbour representatives and two Highland Councillors, Colin and Michael.

Much of the discussion focussed on the current poor state of the harbour and the problem of silting and rubble being washed down the river. Alistair Noble said: “If we don’t do something over the next 10 or 20 years the harbour will fall into the mouth of the River Nairn.”

The Kayak Club and the Sailing Club outlined the potential of their activities and they both see Nairn as playing a key role in being an Olympic pathway for these sports.

Full report here -

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The following serves to explain and underscore why NICE was formed. Some question our motives but there is nothing sinister about it – it is Government policy to give communities more say and more local control.

The Minister for Local Government and Planning, Derek Mackay, today (6th Nov) launched a consultation on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill.

The aim of the Bill is to make the most of the talents that exist in our communities; deliver high quality and improving public services; and support strong local democracy and local decision-making.

The Bill will include:

•       a new way for communities to take on public sector land and buildings

•       opportunities for communities to be more involved in shaping and delivering better outcomes locally

•       greater transparency in the management and disposal of the Common Good

•       improved powers for local authorities to recover the costs of dealing with dangerous and defective buildings

•       measures to streamline and extend the rural community right to buy

•       new duties to strengthen Community Planning, so that public sector agencies work as one to deliver better outcomes for communities

•       updated and simplified legislation on allotments

•       new powers for local authorities to create local business rate relief schemes.

We are also inviting views on other ways to reflect local democracy principles, and considering how communities might benefit from legislation to strengthen the national and local focus on improving outcomes, currently implemented through Scotland Performs.

The consultation  paper is available on the Scottish Government website at  If you would like a printed copy, please contact, or telephone 0131 244 0382.  The closing date for responses is 24 January 2014.

This consultation takes forward proposals that were supported in our previous, exploratory consultation, and other issues which have emerged from further discussion with stakeholders.  We are contacting people who responded to that earlier consultation, and others who have expressed an interest in the issues covered, to make sure you have the chance to comment on our detailed proposals.

Officials will be attending events and visiting groups with an interest in the Bill to help them understand the proposals.  Visit our website at or follow us on Twitter, @CommEmpower, to keep up with what’s happening.

We look forward to hearing your views.

The Community Empowerment Bill Team

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The Scottish Government: Return control of Common Good Assets

We are pleased to publish an email concerning efforts in Forres to have Common Good Asset control returned to Community Councils.


Something amazing happened last week!

Our petition asking The Scottish Government to return our local assets to the local people they were gifted to started to stall. It was great that so many of you signed and shared the web-link with your friends.. Thank YOU to those of you who did that…

After a great start, it quickly spread. However it slowed down around 650 people and only one or two people were joining each day. I canvassed and nagged a few of my friends and one by one the numbers grew. However I realised that I had reached the scope of my social network and felt a bit down that I couldn’t do any more. So I went to bed feeling a bit depressed :(

When I woke up the numbers were starting to go up again and by lunchtime the numbers were over 800!. I watched in awe as more and more people signed and shared… 900 and then 1000 (our initial target). Still new folk kept signing – 100 in the next hour and then another 100 in the next 40 minutes. We were gobsmacked!. In one day the numbers had more than doubled and they are still rising steadily (presently 1380 people have now signed :)

It became clear that this was not just a local issue and much bigger than our own local Battle for Bogton. Yes, we are still fighting our local authority who seem to be intent on selling off our beautiful park owned by us to a major property developer to build a shopping mall (which we feel will kill our high street and destroy the character of our town).

But this has become Bigger than Bogton… Bigger than Forres. Bigger than Scotland! Read how here…

We realise now that we need to keep growing this petition and take it to the UK parliament for those living in England who are equally affected.

So, we don’t intend to stop this campaign and are now aiming for 10,000 people to join us in bringing this important matter to the highest authority. 10,000 of us will not be ignored by the press, the telly and even by our politicians. Its time to bring our power back to local communities everywhere. In trying to stop our wee town becoming Anytown, Anywhere we now hope to help Everytown Everywhere. :)

Thank YOU for helping make this happen. You are more powerful than ypu realise! If you haven’t already done so, please share the link above on your social network site and encourage your friends to do the same. Together we are many and we must be heard. Lets see this petition really rocket!

Together we will stop the land grabs. If you too are fighting a similar battle in your town please join our local facebook group and paste a link to it so that we can work together…

Thankyou, thankyou, thank YOU

Stewart Noble
for The Battle for Bogton, Forres.

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A Noble Perspective

The Chair of NICE, Dr Alastair Noble shares his personal perspective on local Nairn issues in this series of videos published on the Gurn – a local Nairn blog.

1. Introduction and background

2. A reflective look at Nairn South

3. Nairn’s Common Good Fund

4. Highland Wide Development Plan

5. A Vision for Nairn

Further tapes to be listed over the coming days

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2013 AGM

The Minute of AGM can be found on this page - MINUTE_2013.pdf

The Chairman’s report can be found below.

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AGM – Chairman’s Report

The NICE AGM was attended by around 60 people many having already read the Feasibility Study proposals for the old Social Work Building. A number of searching questions were taken from the floor and at the end of the meeting there was unanimous support for moving forward to the next stage – with warmly supported expressions such as “Long overdue” and “Get on with it!”

NICE Chairman’s Report 2013

This has been an exciting year for NICE as a Scottish Charity and Community Body.

We have been asked to demonstrate our capabilities by delivering one major project. The development of the old social work building was the obvious first choice. After wide consultation we are tonight presenting our excellent feasibility study. We will now move, working in close co-operation with Highland Council to deliver a business plan in acceptable form to their Asset Management Project Board, seeking approval within 3 months. This is a solid amount of work and I would like to thank in particular Mike Barnett for managing the production of this business plan and ensuring the quality of its content. Continue reading

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Social Work Building Feasibility Study

We are pleased to post the following document:

Feasibility Study of Future Possibilities for the
Old Social Work Building
July 2013

Please note: This a a 4Mb file

We hope members will be able to attend the AGM on the 7th August (7.30pm) at the Community & Arts Centre where these proposals will be discussed.

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