Highland Council is under fire amid accusations they are ignoring local views over a Nairn site identified for future development.
Residents are concerned about a potential Springfield development at Granny Barbour’s Road.
Last year, the local authority made a U-turn in their latest Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan by recommending expansion to Nairn East with 290 homes.
Meanwhile in August, Springfield Properties submitted a proposal of application notice for a mixed-use development on the site.
Concerns about Nairn East
Soon Highland Council will launch a consultation on the proposed plan for the Inner Moray Firth Local Development Plan.
The development plan sets out how the region should grow over the next 10 to 20 years.
This development plan was compiled under the assumption that the A96 bypass would be delivered within a few years.
The future of the project to dual the A96 has been put in doubt since the SNP-Greens formed a power-sharing pact last year.
It is now subject to an evidence-based climate review, with the findings not due until the end of this year.
This has sparked concerns amongst locals, including Nairn River Community Council’s Loreine Thomson.
Mrs Thomson has also raised concerns over the Granny Barbour’s road site now being sought for a housing development.
The site was previously a non-preferred site which means that it isn’t suitable for any development.
She told the P&J: “The site has infrastructure constraints identified in a 2015 assessment which haven’t been addressed.
“Certainly it would appear Highland Council have completely ignored the views of the Nairn community with regard to Nairn East and have done a complete U turn, leaving the community with the clear view that this unexplained U turn is developer led rather than community led.”
Accusations of using out of date information
She also accused Highland Council of using data within a seven-year-old Housing Needs and Demand Assessment for last year’s public consultation about the Main Issues Report.
Mrs Thomson added: “The council has now agreed their ‘settled view’ and the public and indeed Highland Council still have no authorised HNDA.
“The world has changed significantly in the last seven years with the Covid pandemic, Brexit and global climate change.
“Highland Council must prepare a credible and robust Housing Needs and Demand Assessment (HNDA) when preparing its local development plan.
“Despite the fact that we are in 2022, no HNDA has been published.”
Will the consultation change the council’s ‘settled view’?
According to a Highland Council spokesman, the council has considered the Main Issues Report when preparing the proposed plan, which legislation refers to as its ‘settled view’.
He stressed that the consultation provides a “further opportunity” for people to highlight any changes they would wish to see made.
He added: “The proposed plan will also be based on the latest Housing Need and Demand Assessment that is already available at the council’s housing land information.
Granny Barbour’s site change from non-preferred site to preferred for housing
The council spokesman added that the Nairn area committee’s decision in December to identify Nairn East as the principal strategic expansion location for the town is subject to detailed masterplanning and timely infrastructure phasing.
Springfield Properties north managing director Dave Main said: “We are at very early stages and are currently engaging with the community to help shape our proposals for Nairn East.
“As with all planning applications of this scale, analysis is being carried out by third party specialists in relation to delivery of key infrastructure, such as education, utility services and transport.
“Following the submission of a formal planning application, this will be closely reviewed by relevant authorities and stakeholders as part of the planning process.”