Ellon and District Councillors have shared their views over proposals for a southern bypass in the town.
At a recent public consultation by Scotia Homes covering the Cromleybank scheme, developers put forward plans for a new bypass instead of a bridge.
The Princes Foundation carried out a public consultation exercise on behalf of Scotia Homes in 2008 which saw Cromleybank picked as the location for expansion of the town.
The exercise picked up a major public concern which stated that any development of Cromleybank should be fully integrated with the current town centre. It set out that this was to be achieved by installing a footbridge and another road bridge to link together the town.
Formartine Area Committee agreed that the developer should provide a road bridge north of Ellon as a pre-condition of developing the site when drafting the Local Development Plan.
Chair of the Formartine Area Committee, Ellon and District Councillor Rob Merson said: “Having lived in Ellon for some forty years, I have consistently heard the view that it is a disgrace that Ellon has been allowed to develop on both sides of the river linked by just one single carriageway road bridge, which dates from the Second World War.
“I have received an assurance from the developer that if a bridge is insisted on - they will deliver a bridge.
“I would therefore suggest that members of the public would need to give very careful consideration to both options before expressing a preference, and I hope that we might look forward to greater participation in the consultation process.”
A traffic survey commissioned by Scotia claims that a major cause of congestion is due to the volume of traffic passing through the town between Peterhead and Oldmeldrum. It suggests that a new south-west bypass would be the preferred option for motorists making that journey.
Councillor Richard Thomson has raised questions over the accuracy of the survey.
Mr Thomson said: “The traffic assessments invite us to believe that a new bridge at Cromleybank would attract most of the Peterhead- Oldmeldrum through traffic, yet would still lead to greater queues forming at the southern A90 roundabout than a bypass taking all that through traffic directly to that roundabout.
“Common sense suggests that for one of those assumptions to be true the other is likely to be false. A traffic assessment can only ever be as good as the assumptions you ask it to make, and I think those behind the assessment have a lot to do to explain how they reach the conclusions they have.
“While a new road to the south will almost certainly have to be built if Ellon expands in future, I remain unconvinced that a ‘bypass’ on its own will meet the objectives set for the long term or be as effective as a bridge in terms of helping to link up the town.”
Councillor Gillian Owen said: “I am very disappointed that the developer should have concentrated their efforts on trying to ‘design-out’ the bridge which was a pre-condition of developing the site. It was also made very clear that the development should be progressed so that the new academy is not an island in the middle of nowhere for years, but is fully integrated with the community. That is why it was conditioned that the bridge had to be supplied in the early phases of the development – not half-way through it, as is proposed for the by-pass.”
Councillor Isobel Davidson added: “To now see the new proposals with no inclusion of a road bridge is deeply disappointing. In addition, a new Southern bypass will create an additional development site with no infrastructure to support the town centre.”
Scotia Homes were contacted by the Times for comment but had not responded at the time of going to print.