Councillors have backed the construction of a new bridge to ease traffic congestion in Ellon.
Formartine Area Committee this week voted in favour of the option and not for a southern bypass for the town recommended by officials.
The committee was considering a development framework for the Cromleybank area where Scotia Homes are proposing to build 980 homes, and the new Ellon Academy community campus is nearing completion.
Scotia maintain a bypass would be a more effective means of allievating traffic problems and is the only solution within their control.
Committee members heard that more than 80% of people who were questioned at the company’s recent public consultation on their plans voted in favour of a bypass.
In a report before Tuesday’s meeting, council officials said that in terms of the impact on the road network, it had been shown that the proposed southern bypass option would cope better with additional traffic generated by the Cromleybank development.
But the committee disagreed and voted 6-3 for the bridge as the preferred option.
Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Ellon and District Councillor Richard Thomson, who moved approval of the framework with the addition of a bridge, said that he had been happy to back the proposals.
He explained: “This is a major development for Ellon as the town expands. For that reason, it’s vital that we get it right and do everything we can to make sure that it fits well with and enhances what we already have in the town.
“Having listened to all the arguments regarding the merits of a link road or a bridge, I came down on the side of a bridge because I think it is the best way to ensure that Cromleybank and its future residents can be fully connected to the facilities in the north of the town.
“A link road to the south has a lot to commend it and may well end up being built in the future under different circumstances. However, at this time, I think the right choice is to ensure that a bridge is built. I’m pleased that a majority of councillors – including a majority of Ellon councillors - backed this position.”
Scotia said later they were “shocked” by the decision.
Director Derrick Thomson said: “Scotia maintain that a southern bypass is a far superior and long-term solution which mitigates against heavy traffic coming through Ellon and resolves any impact that Cromleybank has on the town centre.
“There continues to be a danger in the councillors’ solution that puts heavy traffic directly past the new academy.
“We pointed out to councillors that the mitigation required in the town centre in order to make a bridge more effective is a waste of taxpayers’ money and does not resolve traffic congestion and is potentially undeliverable due to the practicalities of disrupting large swathes of the town centre, and the potential compulsory purchase required at various town centre locations.”
Councillors will address a number of other issues with the development framework at the masterplan stage.