An online meeting was held on 1st September 2020 which brought together representatives of the two Nairn Community Councils ( Nairn River and Nairn West and Suburban) , BID and NICE ( Nairn\’s Community Development Trust) with 3 of Nairn\’s Highland Councillors and a number of Highland officers involved with transport and parking, policy, and improvement of tourist welcome facilities(eg toilets, campervans) across Highland.
For more information on community groups \’Team Nairn\’ joined up approach to getting the best for Nairn see our previous posting on Working Together for Nairn
All present agreed that there was a shared wish to improve Nairn\’s tourist welcome and visitor amenities, to help the local economy recover from impacts of the COVID lockdown
Nairn needs to be ready for a further influx of \’Staycation\’visitors including camper vans in 2021 so it is important to explore ways to target resources on improvements to local visitor facilities, as has happened in other parts of Highland, which have seen significant investment by Highland Council in new toilets and car parks, such as in Skye and on the North Coast 500 route. Nairn may be eligible for funding from the new Coastal Communities Fund to fund such improvements.
2/the possibility of Highland Council working with Nairn communities to bring in a new parking charges scheme on 3 \’seafront\’ parking areas – the Harbour, the Maggot, Cumming Street/Links
Various \’business models\’ were described which are operating in other Highland Communities, where Highland Council oversees collection of charges and parking enforcement. Options include the Council paying a one off annual rental to Nairn Common Good fund to operate car parks, or agreeing a percentage of surplus funds to be released for local community spending.
This means that 100% of income should return to Nairn, so any scheme negotiated with the local community would have to demonstrate measurable benefits to Nairn communities, once all the set up and management costs and any potential negative impacts on surrounding neighbourhoods are factored in. Income could also vary widely depending on the hours, and number of days per year charges are in place and whether locals are to pay for parking as well as visitors.
There may also be added policing and parking enforcement costs in surrounding streets with \’displacement\’of cars to Fishertown where onstreet parking is already at a premium, due to pressure from holiday lets in summer, which has already been causing local concerns
Scottish Government has given local authorities the powers to do this- and City of Edinburgh is already working on it. This is becoming urgent for tourist dependent communities like Skye and Nairn.
Improved regulation, and operating guidelines for holiday lets could help to target appropriate facilities for visitors (including parking) in areas where holiday lets are common.
It could also help ensure that tourists are made to feel welcome in local communities, rather than causing friction re parking, and that the tourist industry enhances local communities and does not allow growth in holiday lets to undermine availability of affordable housing for local families and workers.
Under Community Empowerment Act-Scotland any proposals for a change of use to Common Good Assets ( including land ) must be developed transparently by Highland Council and other agencies/funders working closely with local (Nairn) communities to negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Any proposals put forward for changes to CG land, as well as having to comply with Planning and other legislation( eg re environmental impacts), will also require a 12 week\’Common Good\’ public consultation to obtain community approval before any changes can go ahead
If the Common Good land is also deemed \’inalienable\'( which much of Nairn\’s is) the applicant will also have to fund an application to the Sheriff Court for permission to make this change.
So as you can see there is still a lot of research, paperwork, and negotiation to come before any proposed new parking schemes or toilet improvements, however welcome, could be implemented
Any proposed \’action plan\’ for parking charges or other improvements under discussion by Highland Council with Nairn community representatives, will be put before the public.
To maximise community engagement there will be a full 12 week public consultation period for any proposed activity on Common Good land.
All public feedback has to be taken into account, before any plans affecting Common Good Assets can be finalised. If the community are generally opposed, plans cannot proceed and must go back to drawing board
If you are a Nairn resident, these 3 car parks are Common Good assets, intended for your benefit ( not Highland Council\’s) and you have a say in what happens to them.
The 12 Nairn River Community Councillors as your community representatives want to make sure that all the right questions are asked, community views are gathered, and that all possible options are explored, so that
1/our town gets the best possible solution for both locals and visitors by making the most of resources available.( including public funding)
2/the people of Nairn (for whose sole benefit Common Good assets are intended) get something that they actually want, which has tangible benefits for the community
See below some questions to consider before any action plan proposals are drafted for further public consultation
These are the questions which members of the 2 CCs , NICE and BID are already considering, based on Highland Council has put forward.
1/ Do you think that parking charges should be progressed as a general principle on the 3 Common Good sites mentioned ( Harbour, Cumming St , Maggot)?
this could -be an up front a one off rental fee ( 5-10 k in other parts of Highland) a management contract where a \’cut\’ of the income eg 50/50 ( minus costs) comes back to CG fund. a service level agreement -which could entail a 20% fee to THC and % of net income
4/Do you want Nairn to explore other \’community led\’ alternatives for managing these Common Good facilities – ( eg in Findhorn a local community trust manages a car park and collects parking fees )
1/ are you in favour of designated parking areas for Camper Vans near Nairn Seafront ( at Maggot, Cumming St and/or Harbour? )
3/do you have any other suggestions for a suitable location for Camper Vans in Nairn(shire) Re toilets near Harbour
1/ do you want existing Harbour St toilets re instated with chemical waste disposal added? ( as Cllr Heggie has proposed)
2/ Do you want to see new relocated toilet facilities in this area – if so where? ( eg Maggot, other site near Harbour)
3/ What facilities should they have? eg chemical waste disposal, public showers? ( there was also discussion of proposal to add showers at Links toilets )
4/ are there any other improvements to public toilets or other visitor facilities such as parking that you would like to see in place before the 2021 tourist season
1/ are there any actions you would like to see taken forward to help Nairn to manage holiday lets ( eg Air BnB) better
3/ If Yes to 2 – what kind of regulations/guidelines would you like this to include for Nairn holiday let owners?
4/If yes to 2, Would you like Nairn(shire) to define \’designated areas\’ where holiday lets are permitted, and others where they are not ?
Please feel free to add your own views and suggestions to the mix to help us negotiate the right solutions for Nairn.
(Aug 21 -comments are now closed here as we await an official Highland Council consultation in autumn 2021 on parking charges at Nairn seafront Common Good car parks which have been voluntary since June )
If you want your voice to be heard on any community matters like this, please talk to your Community Councillors and Highland Councillors and use ‘official channels’ to communicate your views via public consultations or surveys on parking charges, use of Common Good etc .
Feel free to suggest other areas of local concern which Nairn River Community Council should be engaging with the public on, to make sure local views are heard and taken on board by Highland planners and decision makers.