The Quiet Life in a Child-Free Village

Sections
of the media made it out to be a place for “child-hating ogres”,
according to one estate agent.

Residents of Firhall, built in the early
Noughties on the outskirts of Nairn in the Highlands, must abide by certain
rules.

The deeds for their properties prohibit the
keeping of ducks, rabbits, pigeons and bees.

Households are allowed to have one dog –
but controversially no resident children.

To own a house in Firhall you must be over
45 years old.

Media ‘hype’

Grandchildren and the children of friends
can visit and stay, but there are even limits on how often this happens.

For BBC Radio 4’s Far From the Madding
Child, presenter Kati Whitaker looked at how things have turned out since
Firhall opened in 2003.

She asks if it is desirable, or even
practical, to encourage the sort of settlements where older people are
segregated from the rest of society.

Residents say Firhall offers peace and
quiet

Estate agent Lesley-Ann Fraser told the programme-makers
of the media’s initial reaction to the development.

She said: “The media hyped it up to
such an extent you would really think anybody who wanted to live in a village
like this was an ogre and they hated children.

“It was a bit like Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang.”

David Eccles, chairman of Firhall Trust,
said in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

He said many of those who chose to live in
the village have grandchildren and the youngsters were always welcome to visit.

Mr Eccles added: “Living here gives a
certain measure of peace and quiet which is what many of us look forward to as
we are getting older.”

However, people have sold up and left after
their sons or daughters have had children and they preferred to live somewhere
without Firhall’s constraints.

Retired BT engineer Jimmy Greig told BBC
Scotland that the child-free element was not what attracted him and his wife to
the 93-home development.

He said: “It was the house, the price
of the house, the area and the access to Inverness Airport.

“Nairn is a beautiful place and there
is golf, bowls and any other kinds of sport available. That is what sold it for
us.”

Another resident Edwina Ellis said the
beauty and ambience of Firhall drew her and her husband to move there.

She said: “There is a lot of bird song
and lovely wildlife. You see squirrels every day. It’s just a lovely place to
live.”

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