Road Decision Deferred

By Jane Cruickshank / March 4, 2020
view across Stonehaven bay from Polbare

COUNCILLORS have requested a site visit before determining Kirkwood Homes’ application for East Lodge road infrastructure at Ury Estate.

At yesterday’s Kincardine and Mearns Area Committee meeting, some two and a half hours were spent discussing the proposals that would see the completion of a road linking the Slug and Netherley Roads – keeping the estate gateway open, but closing off a section of the B979.

Provost Bill Howatson had the last word, saying: ”I’ve never been at a meeting where there was so much confusion and ambiguity.

”I think a site visit would be very helpful. I am very concerned about what has been thrown up today.”

Lesser of Two Evils?

A planning history spanning over a decade underpins concerns about the new junction – a catalogue of applications have been passed in this time.

Permission already exists for a road layout taking traffic from a give way junction just inside the gates, then uphill along a road running inside the estate and parallel to the Netherley Road to a junction at North Lodge.

In this design, dating back to 2014, the East Lodge gates are blocked to traffic, adding about a mile to a journey into Stonehaven or to access the AWPR.

Planners recommended the new proposals as being an improvement offering ‘more logical access’.

Pinch Point on Highway

The concerns of residents on East Lodge Drive were described as unfortunate, but not a material consideration as the principle of a link road had been established very early on in the development history of the estate.

No-one disputed the benefit to estate residents in having better access. However, councillors questioned the assumptions made about the number of vehicles that would use the road – they were based on surveys undertaken before the opening of the AWPR.

Cllr Wendy Agnew called for a new survey now it is in use. But roads department officers were adamant their assumption of 4,000 vehicles per day was a ‘robust estimate’.

To mitigate sub-standard forward sight lines at the stretch of road outside the lodge house, a traffic calming pinch point is needed – on what will become the B797 highway.

During a recent speed survey on the B979, some 700 vehicles per day were monitoried. Undoubtedly the impact on this traffic, which includes farm lorries and agricultural vehicles, was a source of concern.

Councillor Colin Pike said Netherley Road traffic would be inconvenienced by the new layout, which he described as a ‘substandard design on a public highway’.

He said: ”Any traffic coming from the Netherley Road will come to a T-junction. It would have to stop, then turn into a pinch point and decide if the pinch point is clear to proceed.”

And New Mains of Ury owner David Strang Steel said the new junction, was a ‘preposterous idea’.

Describing the difficulties it would cause to tractors with trailers and machinery, and the subsequent hazards, he said: ”If this scheme is approved, somebody is going to get seriously injured.”

Ancient Woodland

In either scheme, trees in the Polbare belt will be felled, mostly Beech. But the committee was reassured that social and economic factors can outweigh the importance of ancient woodland and that it was ‘permissable in this case’.

The site visit is to take place at 10am on March 17. See this link for guidance on attending site visits