The NICE meeting on 25 February discussed tasks and priorities, and debated how the group could most effectively influence the plans for the future of Nairn.
- Priorities – Town Centre versus Local Plan
Some people argued that NICE had been formed in order to challenge and influence the Highland Council over the design and development proposals for the Town Centre. Why worry about the Local Plan?
All agreed that the town centre remained the short-term priority. But public comments had underlined the importance of connecting the town centre with the planning for the surrounding area (High Street, bus station site, etc). Council officials had accepted that the interim development brief for the town centre should be compatible with the wider plan for the town, and had encouraged NICE to offer input into the new Local Plan. NICE should take the opportunity to put forward input on other aspects of the town’s development.
As an immediate action point, the NICE design and planning group will send the latest version of their town centre plan to Highland Council, and three representatives (Shane Rodgers, Graham Vine and Brian Stewart) will attend the forthcoming meeting with Highland Council and Transport Scotland officials about A96 issues.
- Diversity – reflecting everyone’s interests
Although people had joined NICE as individuals, some people warned that unless it reflected the full range of local opinion, there was a risk that the group would become no more than a “talking shop for busybodies”. For NICE to comment effectively and credibly on all the wider planning issues affecting Nairn, it needed to engage with other local interest-groups, including farmers, local businesses, environmental groups, the tourism sector and others.
- Getting involved – the task of the working groups
Prompted by that thought, it was agreed that working sub-groups should be formed, on the lines of the existing Design & Planning Group, to tackle the various subject areas that might be covered in the draft Local Plan. The following members volunteered to co-ordinate discussion, recruit others with interest or expertise, and produce ideas and recommendations on specific topics:
- Housing: Matthew Hilton/Vivien Munro
- Industry/Employment/Enterprise: Graham Vine
- Retail and Tourism: John Oliver
- Recreation/ amenity/green spaces: Iain Bruce
- Transport and other infrastructure: Shane Rodgers/Brian Stewart
The output of these sub-groups would then be edited into a NICE submission to the Council by the 29 April deadline.
- Project possibilities?
The Chairman reminded everyone that if any project-ideas emerged from these discussions, there was scope to put them forward as proposals for funding and implementation under the LEADER programme, which could provide up to 90% of the required funding.
The next NICE meeting is provisionally fixed for Thursday 10 March at [5.00pm] in the Community Centre. Do come!