Nairn Common Good News

Nairn’s 4 elected Highland Councillors are also Nairn’s Common Good Trustees along with the other 68 Highland Councillors who get a say on all major Common Good decisions for Nairn.

Since 2020 Highland Council have launched multiple public consultations under new Community Empowerment Act 2015 legislation.

These consultations are managed by Highland’s (only) Common Good Officer and seek public views on proposals to dispose of (by sale or lease) or change use of, Nairn’s valuable Common Good Assets.

A number of changes have also been ‘imposed’ recently on Nairn’s Common Good Land, including chargeable parking infrastructure being installed at the Links, Harbour and Maggot by Highland Council’s Parking Manager, without the ‘prior public consultation’ with local residents which is required by law for any ‘change of use’

Both Nairn community councils have been challenging this with Highland Councillors and officers since last April so far to no avail – we understand that similar conversations have been happening across Highland with the Council’s Parking Manager , Shane Manning as his team erects ‘invitation to pay’ parking infrastructure, on other Common Good land, from Wick to Fortrose, and Dornoch, paving the way for chargeable parking ‘by stealth’ while avoiding the required ‘prior consultation’ with local people.

It is important for local people to understand what this means for Nairn.

Common Good assets cannot legally be sold or changed (including raising income from them) without local people being given a proper say. Community Councils must be notified as the statutory public consultation bodies, and Highland Council must have regard to residents views to inform their decisions.

We will try to keep you up to date with latest Common Good news and developments here

Blog update Feb 22 – miscoding, double charging and a withdrawn Planning application

Additional’ Sandown Consultation December 21/January 22

What are Nairn’s Common Good Assets?

Nairn Common Good Asset Register

Highland Council Common Good Consultations page

LIVE Nairn Common Good Consultations

All live Highland Council’s Common Good consultations are published here

Who Looks After Nairn Common Good Assets ?

Highland Council’s 72 elected Councillors have a second ‘local’ role as Common Good Trustees. Not all parts of Highland have ‘Common Good Assets’ – this mainly relates to towns which were ‘Royal Burghs’ like Nairn.

The 4 new Nairn Councillors elected in May 2022, are the local Common Good Trustees. They make decisions on Nairn Common Good matters at the quarterly Nairnshire (Local Area) Committee of Highland Council. Major decisions are referred to the whole Highland Council since all 72 Highland Councillors are ‘Common Good Trustees’

CURRENT Nairn Common Good consultations

No consultations are currently live. Reports on all public consultations on disposal or change of use of Common Good Assets are published here on Highland Council’s website

Two consultations have been launched in 2023.

A consultation closed on 10th May 2023 on a proposal to give away a strip of Common Good Land adjacent to the Seaman’s Victoria Hall for no remuneration, to Green Hive /Nairn River Enterprise who recently took ownership of the Hall from a public Trust for a pound.

NRCC have challenged this proposal as invalid as a range of options have not been offered for the public to consider. There has also been a failure of due process by CG Trustees as the proposal was agreed at a private Ward Business Meeting and not tabled for discussion and decision in the public domain at the Nairnshire Area Committee.

NRCC have also objected strongly to giving any Nairn CG Asset away for free, instead of offering it for let to generate a long term revenue stream as has been the precedent for many years with Sanddancer, Parkdean, Strathnairn Cafe, James’ Cafe. We challenge the assertion that any land asset has ‘no value’ and have quoted examples of a smaller piece of CG land recently let to James’s Cafe for £400 extra rent per year, and another similar plot sold for £8000 pounds in Dornoch. This strip of land is definitely inalienable as it was previous a public right of way from Harbour St to the river bank, blocked off by the Council two decades ago by a flood protection wall.

A second consultation in 2 years on disposal of Grant Street Yard closed on 17th March. Nairn’s new CG Trustees still recommended sale of the asset at a meeting last October despite most public comments to the previous consultation concluding that leasing should be the preferred option to keep the Asset in public ownership and generate a long income. They assert that costs of demolishing existing buildings ( estimated by THC would be prohibitive to lessees. NRCC have argued that Highland Council Trustees have been responsible for oversight of the maintenance of the site since Nairn District Council closed down, so any neglect and disrepair should be made good by the Highland Council. If the building is now so dangerous it must be demolished, then THC should bear the costs, before putting it on the market for let.

Common Good Consultation – proposal to sell Grant Street Yard – closed 10/03/22 Nairn River CC do not recognise this as a valid public consultation, because due process in decision making and public transparency was not followed by Nairn’s Common Good Trustees/Highland Councillors to initiate it. We have asked for this proposal to be withdrawn till after the May 22 elections when new Highland Councillors are appointed as Nairn Common Good Trustees, to work alongside the Nairn community to improve local Common Good governance. This will also give time for wider options such as leasing to be explored for this Nairn Common Good Asset with sale as a last resort – our submission is here

Consultations in 2022

Common Good Consultation(closed 11/03/22) lease extension for Links Kiosk (James’ Cafe) Nairn River CC supports this in principle with some conditions – our submission is here

Sandown Lands Additional Consultation – closed 31st Jan 2022 -the two Nairn Community Councils who had submitted detailed responses to the first consultation in 2021, did not recognise this second consultation as valid, for multiple reasons, as follows

the first consultation already delivered a clear ‘don’t sell’ verdict from Nairn people, based on 98 responses, the most ever received in Highland for this kind of consultation.

the online survey for the second consultation was not restricted to identifiable residents of the former Burgh of Nairn, but open to the whole internet, allowing multiple and anonymous responses making it impossible to analyse or define as a ‘local response’

the above survey asked 2 different sets of questions in addition to the first consultation’s simple Yes or No to the Common Good Asset sale. These included leading questions on future use of the land, including for housing, which were not relevant to a statutory Common Good public consultation on disposal or change of use.

the second consultation was selectively targeted on specific ‘groups’ of respondents (including, we understand, Nairn housing applicants from outwith Highland), who were offered support to complete the survey. We believe this to be in contravention of Equalities, Common Good and Community Empowerment legislation, so not valid.

Consultations in 2021

Sandown Lands Common Good Consultation Feb 2021 – Proposal to dispose of CG land by sale ( 98 responses, 85 against the sale, summary here. Highland Council considered this response unsatisfactory and local Councillors approved a further consultation -see above)

Consultations 2019/2020

Nairn Links Tearoom and Old Store Common Good Consultation Oct 20 – Jan 21 – Extension of lease for ‘Strathnairn Cafe’ ( approved – 16 responses, majority in support)

Nairn Sailing Club Common Good Consultation April- June 2019 ( disposal of CG land for Coastal Rowing Club Shed) approved – 2 public responses both in favour. The 2 Nairn Community Councils were not notified by Highland Council, so did not have an opportunity to contribute. Nairn River CC were in abeyance Feb- Dec 19 and unable to hold public meetings but councillors were still active in the community and responding to email.

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