Friday, 3 February 2012

Transport Scotland A96 etc / Nairn Bypass Consultation; more info

Herein some brief email correspondence
I would be interested to hear your experience of the consultation which starts next week, see previous post.

  • From APTSec to Transport Scotland (TS):

Good afternoon

I wonder if you could provide a little more information and clarity on the web page at this link below

This link is was quoted as part of a Highland Council Press Release – see below disclaimer

The section in question is as below

Status - In preparation.

Would it be possible to link another page(s) on your site which could outline the various stages of projects such as this with approximate timescales etc  

I feel it would be very helpful to have as much general and background information as possible in advance of the meeting dates and for future reference.

On a personal note; I will find it difficult to attend one of the consultation meetings since as luck would have I will be in Inverness at the time the Nairn meeting is held and in heading East towards Nairn on the Tuesday Evening so will have to make a special journey Balloch.

Do you intend to hold any more meetings?

Thank you for your help.

  • Reply from TS Respondent:

Thank you for your e-mail.
We have received a number of similar requests for information on the stages of our projects with approximate timescales. We hope to have some further information in the next couple of weeks.
With regards to the public exhibition, the information to be presented in Nairn and Balloch will be available on our web page from 6 February 2012. We have no plans at this stage to hold any further public exhibitions as we are still at the very early stages of the design process. If you are unable to attend one of the public exhibitions, we would be more than happy to answer any queries you may have. Our e-mail address for this project is  If you direct any future queries to this e-mail address, one of our Project Engineers will be able to quickly respond. Alternatively, you may wish to call me on the number below.
I trust this is satisfactory and please check our web page from 6 February for additional project information.

  • Return request from APTSec:

Thank you very much for such a prompt and helpful reply.

The issue of provision of transport infrastructure to support all the planned development in the A96 Corridor is one which resonates strongly with many, many people.  The lack of transport infrastructure has been overriding and front-focused concern amongst the public since the Highland Council first began to promote and drive forward their extensive plans for the area of the A96 Corridor; an area which THC has unquestioningly enlarged well beyond its original description (through in the adopted ILP process) as a ‘narrow tract of land’ straddling the A96 trunk road.

Here is what the recently published HwLDP Examination Report stated:  

Infrastructure (74, 153, 168, 218, 291, 431, 527)

8. The preamble to the policy sets out clearly that the main A96 development is to be in the medium to longer term. This is partially in recognition that to enable it to go ahead major improvements will be needed to infrastructure, including transport, education, water supply and drainage. The plan states specifically (paragraph 10.6) that infrastructure capacity needs to be increased to accommodate new development, and that the policy framework will resist development beyond the first phases until improvements have been designed and funding agreed.

9. In these respects I find no substantive difference between what the plan states and the representors are seeking. I consider the concerns raised are more relevant to the future implementation of the plan, and it will be up to the Council to demonstrate that the stated policy regarding infrastructure and timing is followed. Otherwise the wider fears raised by representors will have been seen to have a solid base. In terms of the plan however, I find no need for any modification in this regard.

10. Specific mention is made of the Inverness Trunk Link Route (168), suggesting that this is not required, at least at the eastern end. No evidence has been provided to justify this, and I have no basis on which to make any recommendation

It is so important that we, as lay members of the public understand, well to put it very simply, how everything works and fits together with respect to bringing forward a major project like this.

Could I be very cheeky and introduce a request for perhaps some ‘joined up thinking’ – presuming of course that this is not already in the pipeline.  The upgrades to the Aberdeen / Inverness rail line and provision of a rail halt at Dalcross is a subject which is very close to my heart...Could pages be linked across the TS web site so that we look at the progress of the rail upgrades / station provision in tandem with road alignment work?

Would it be OK if I just popped your responses to me up on the APT blog?

  • Reply from TS Respondent

Thank you for your comments and suggestions. We are at the very early stages of developing options for trunk road improvements for the A96 corridor. We have been working with The Highland Council as they progress their Inner Moray Firth Development Plan. As part of our design process, our consultation includes key parties such as Scottish Natural Heritage, SEPA and Historic Scotland. As the A96 Inshes to Nairn project also includes a number of railway interfaces, we will also be consulting with Network Rail. The development proposals at Dalcross have been taken into consideration during the option development of the A96 section between Culloden and Brackley. When a preferred option has been identified, we will investigate the options for providing connections to the development at Dalcross.
Whilst at this early stage we have not developed particular detail at railway interfaces such as Dalcross, we will keep this under consideration for our web-site as the schemes progress.
I trust this is satisfactory and I am happy for you to include my response on your blog if you wish to do so.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Sandown; just in case we forget

[QUIZ questions for those readers who get to the bottom of this post; to the Reporter's recommendation that ends it.  

What happens if potential for business development is not identified?

Who will pro-actively determine the potential and over what timescale?

How will that sit with the layouts being brought forward through the charrette?]

Let us not forget that some time in the not so distant past the following was set before a Highland Council Area Planning Committee:  


07/00188/OUTNA: Development of 550 houses etc, Sandown Lands, Nairn
(in outline)

Recommendation: Grant Outline Planning Permission 
following conclusion of Section 75 Agreement

Application for Outline Planning permission for development of 550 houses, business park, community facilities and related landscaping works at Sandown. The development is on land generally allocated in the Development Plan for the mix of uses described, but there are some differences in the distribution and extent of individual land uses and the number of houses specified (550) represents more than five times the number specified in the Local Plan. The increase is largely achieved by opting for a high density design philosophy which has notable precedents elsewhere but again is not consistent with the density and character specified in the Local Plan. Notwithstanding that, the general principles of the development are judged acceptable in relation to planning priorities and Policy advice which post-dates the Local Plan as well as the Structure Plan. Based on that consideration the recommendation is to grant outline planning permission subject to conditions. If that recommendation is accepted a number of other procedures must be undertaken before permission can be granted, as a consequence of the Council’s financial interest in the land and the significant number of objections received; these are outlined in the report.

Terms of sale: the planning decision is taken on the planning merits of the case. Because the Council has a financial interest in the site permission cannot be granted without the case first being notified to Scottish Ministers to allow the opportunity for call-in. This involves submission of all the information contained in the application case file together with this Committee report as background.

There would not have been a charrette as such if members of the community had not marshaled together before and during the Application Hearing enough sound planning points to allow the planning committee to refuse the application

Further to the application being  refused, the Applicant submitted an appeal and an Inquiry was held in the Nairn Community Centre.  The Reporters refused the Applicant's appeal, again, presumably, having enough sound planning reasons with which to do so.

The Reporter conclusions - found in full here - included the words:

The proposed development constitutes overdevelopment of the site, adopting
high densities and an urban form that is inappropriate for the location and inconsistent with the character of Nairn.

In that respect, Councillor Park expressed concern that local people should be able
to have confidence in the council’s plans for development of the area. The council’s vision
for Sandown, as articulated by Councillor Park at the inquiry, has, in broad terms, been
consistently expressed through the local plan and a series of non-statutory council
documents over the last 10 years or so. It looks for lower rise development in clusters, a
more generous landscape/treed framework, and a prestigious office development: all
amounting to an attractive and sympathetic gateway to the town. It is evident that the
council are open to design ideas which would create more of a sense of place and a
pedestrian-friendly layout.

Much more recently, further to the Examination of the Highland-wide Local Development Plan, the Reporters' recommendations - in the report here - regarding the  development at Sandown:

'Delete Policy 16 and put instead:

The Council will support development at Sandown (as shown on Map 9) in the short
term. A masterplan will be prepared and adopted as supplementary guidance. A
recreational access management plan will also be prepared.

Issues addressed by the masterplan will include:

• site layout;
• design of buildings and open areas;
• housing density;
• provision of affordable housing;
• provision of employment-generating uses;
• phasing;
• flood risk;
• an access solution that provides unfettered links to the Delnies development area
to the west and shared arrangements wherever possible;
• infrastructure provision; and
• delivery of the development.

The design for development of Sandown shall be based on the masterplan and the
recreational access management plan. The design for development of Sandown and
Delnies shall be progressed side-by-side and shall:

• show an overall coherence, attractiveness and local character;
• be efficient in terms of movement of people and vehicles; and
• enhance the town.

Note: Two more paragraphs are to be added to Policy 16. Please see the recommendations under Issue 92: Nairn.

That paragraph from Issue 92 is:

In Policy 16: Sandown, add two new paragraphs:

In preparing proposals for the site, consideration must be given to the extent to which
tourism-related development and business development might be attracted to the site.
If potential, either in the short term or in the longer term, is identified for one or both of
these kinds of development, land must be reserved accordingly.

Connections to the public water and waste water systems will be required

Sandown 'consultation'; Opening old Wounds?

The event taking place in Nairn this week (see 'Gurn' here for several posts) has released a deal of emotional turmoil in the APTSec bosom - perhaps I am not alone?

Someone suggested to me that perhaps what I was feeling at the moment was due to the opening up of 'old wounds'.  Thinking about it the wounds have never closed to be opened again; they continue to suppurate.  

The Planning Authority has never satisfactorily addressed what I see as the really sore points of contention that we have placed before them over the years and many outstanding issues remain despite the fact that the formal Highland-wide Local Development Plan is now in its final pre-adoption phases.  

The Authority has never sought to offer any truly 'healing' support; they allow the perception to fester that if enough pain is piled on those who seek to fairly and politely challenge their actions then eventually we will be worn down and fade away.