Highlands & Islands

The quiet life in a child-free village

Firhall
Image caption Firhall was built on the outskirts of Nairn in the Highlands

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."

Far From The Madding Child is on BBC Radio 4 from 2000 BST.

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