Work began today (Thursday 22nd June, 2006) on a new centrepiece development in Nairn, which could pave the way for a series of property developments and environmental improvements in the holiday town.
Provost Sandy Park, Chairman of The Highland Council’s Nairnshire Area Committee, spoke of his high hopes for the regeneration of Nairn town centre at a turf cutting ceremony held on the site of the new £3.6 million Community Centre on King Street, adjacent to the town’s police station.
A 12-month contract has been awarded to contracting firm, John A. Jack Contracts, Nairn, and the arts/community complex should be ready to allow Nairn to play its part in celebrating Highland 2007, the year Scotland celebrates Highland culture.
The new complex will feature a state of the art cultural venue of lasting benefit to residents and visitors alike, with seating for 300, as well as multi-purpose meeting rooms, a pre-school nursery, music room, photography darkroom, offices and youth café. The project is being progressed by The Highland Council and Nairn Community Centre Development Company.
Provost Sandy Park said: “I am confident that a start to this eagerly awaited project will be the catalyst to a wide range of property developments and environmental improvements to our town. The centre will be a state of the art building which will be the hub of the community. It will be a terrific resource for local people and the many tourists who visit our seaside resort every year.”
The first turfs were cut by Jim Clark, Chairman of Nairn Community Centre Development Company, who said: “This is a great day for Nairn and I share the provost’s high hopes for the regeneration of our town. Our thanks go to all the funding agencies and the public of Nairn who have contributed so generously. The complex will benefit the whole community - from nursery pupils right through to our senior citizens – and will be an important focal point for arts and community events in our town.”
He was joined by Geoff Skeet, President of the Nairn Senior Citizens Lunch Club and youngster Lucas Weir in cutting the first turfs.
The existing Community Centre, located on the opposite side of King Street in the original Free Church building contructed in 1843, will remain open while its replacement is being built. It will then be demolished, along with other Council premises currently housing Social Work and other staff of The Highland Council, to accommodate a new supermarket run by Somerfield, who have also purchased the Regal bar, former cinema and petrol station in the town. This deal is in the final stages of being signed off by both parties.
Social Work Services staff are earmarked to move to premises at the Town and County Hospital, as part of a Joint Futures project with health colleagues. A new hospital is scheduled for completion early in 2008.
At the same time, the newly-formed Nairnshire Partnership is in the process of revising plans for a £500,000-plus refurbishment of the High Street. Plans will be drawn up by the Council’s Planning and Development Service in consultation with a Project Group drawn from the Nairnshire Partnership prior to going out to public consultation later this year.
And The Highland Council is to spend £350,000 on making the Court House, Nairn, compliant with Disability Discrimination Act requirements. By the end of the summer, Service Point and other staff based at the Court House will move temporarily to the nearby Barron House while the upgrade takes place. It is expected the Service Point will move back to the Court House in March 2007. The Court House will remain the main public caller office in Nairn but Barron House will also be a significant base for a range of services provided by the Council, including the Planning Service.