Council taking steps to create new £100k roads strategy for Elgin

Discussion begins on alternative to West Link Road in Elgin.
Discussion begins on alternative to West Link Road in Elgin.

A NEW TRAFFIC strategy for Elgin is to be drawn up in the wake of the final rejection of a West Link Road to Moray’s civic capital.

Councillors will convene at a special meeting of the Moray Council on Tuesday, when they will discuss a paper prepared by Transportation Manager Nicola Moss on a future strategy for the town.

It highlights a need to put in place an alternative to the West Link Road, which after years of debate and millions in planning costs was finally removed from the Capital Plan earlier this year.

The report calls for Councillors to agree expenditure of £100,000 to prepare a new strategy which would later be put before members of the economic development and infrastructure services committee and the planning and regulatory services committee.

In the paper, Ms Moss outlines the dilemma facing Moray Council with the planned building of around 4000 new homes in Elgin over the next 30 years and the pressures that will bring to existing infrastructure.

The report bemoans the loss of the Link Road, saying: “Development of the WLR was the core output of the previous Transport Strategy for Elgin, and provided a solution for a number of strategic transport priorities in the Local Development Plan. Alternative solutions must now be reviewed.”

It added that a traffic management study in 2006 had identified a west-south distributor road as the “best single project to improve transport connectivity in Elgin”, adding: “WLR was the only scheme with a positive business case (as described in the main issues report of 2011).

“To review the Elgin Traffic Management study and in consequence develop a new Strategy will involve a similar quantum of work as was undertaken previously.”

Ms Moss proposes that work on the transport strategy begins immediately, with a final strategy document expected in September this year with subsequent approval then sought by the two committees.

She adds: “This enables the strategy to inform supplementary guidance for developer obligations relating to transport and future planning applications, and in preparation of the next Local Development Plan.

“Although work was already under way to create supplementary transport guidance, the removal of the WLR scheme changes the baseline junction capacity and accelerates the urgency of the work, as the scheme had a positive impact on a variety of junction improvements, not only those on the direct route of the scheme.”

Council Convener Alan Wright said last night that the strategy was needed to give developers “a degree of certainty” over road infrastructure that they would pay for. He said: “It is more likely to be a series of smaller developments – like improved roundabouts and widening splays onto the existing A96.

“We have massive developments in Findrassie and south Elgin – in both cases we have got to have improvements for people to get from the north to the south and vice versa.”