Thanks to those members and contacts who have kept us up to speed with an update of the Speakeasy. I have posted some of the information I have received below and will add some more over the weekeend.
A96 CORRIDOR DELIVERY FORUM, “SPEAKEASY” – 23 June 09
1. A meeting intended by Highland Council and the main agencies to reassure developers on the prospects for progress. Timescale for new transport infrastructure opaque. Waste water capacity a real problem in Nairn.
2. Developers apparently not greatly encouraged. Community Council participants excluded from afternoon workshop. Interestingly, almost all discussion outside the formal presentations focused on Nairn-related issues.
3. The audience included representatives from various Community Councils. Developers included Cawdor, Scotia, and Deveron. A list of participants, and an official record, will appear on the HC website.
4. The main session consisted of presentations by HC Planners, Transport Scotland and Scottish Water, each followed by Q&A; then an “open mike” session at which only 2 (of an original 3) who asked to speak took up the 5 minute slots offered. The afternoon session was for HC planners and developers/landowners only.
5 Transport Scotland - The message was that TS couldn’t offer assurances on timescales or funding for transport infrastructure. A general introduction described the distinction between trunk roads (Holyrood responsibility) and local/regional roads (Council). The STPR was not a funding or prioritisation document, nor detailed planning. It had however identified A9 dualling, Nairn bypass, A82 safety improvements, A96 dualling, and Dalcross rail station.
A Ms Irvine form TS said she was working with HC on agreeing the route corridor and junction strategy for the A96, and helping with the design brief. Neither phasing nor route had been agreed, and TS still had reservations over aspects of the Developer Contributions (Section 75) formula and applicability.
A Scotia Homes rep urged lateral thinking on a Nairn bypass and advocated their preferred short-to-medium term option of an inner relief/distributor road, which they could fund provided they were not also expected to pay a contribution to the A96/Section 75 levy as well.
Muir of MSE Consultants urged flexible thinking on junctions: the A96 should not become a motorway, but needed lots of junctions to serve local access.
A representative from 7H Architects warned that without clarity and commitment on a Nairn bypass, development in the town would be blighted for a decade. Developers would begin to look for workarounds (ways of “bypassing the bypass”).
List of attendees to follow.