A study was commenced into potential bypass lines or other proposals that would reduce congestion in Elgin.
The study concluded that a bypass would not provide significant benefit to strategic road users nor inhabitants of the town.
A consultation was held on a proposed link road – This was to address public confusion over the roles of a bypass or a link road.
Moray Council recognised the overwhelming opposition to the proposal and agreed to commission a study to evaluate a study into options except those that required property demolition or the use of compulsory purchase powers.
The Council agreed that the study should consider all options for reducing congestion in Elgin.
A STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) Part 1 study was carried out. The study recommended 18 options for consideration.
A STAG Part 2 study was carried out and the 18 options were reduced to 7 following initial testing.
Committee selected 2 routes for consideration in more detail:
- Option A – Edgar Road to A96 via Wittet Drive
- Option B – Edgar Road to A96 at Morrison Road Junction
It is acknowledged that any acceptable new A96 junction at Wittet Drive will require property demolition.
The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges (DMRB) Scheme Assessment process was used to develop the two route corridors.
A number of options are considered for the 2 routes and were compared with a “Do-Nothing” option.
- Urban (Inner)
- Rural (Outer)
- Existing Network Enhancements
A public exhibition was held on the options.
The Committee approved the Urban (Inner) route as the line of the Western Link Road.
A detailed design for the route commences.
Further stakeholder engagement and public consultation on the outline design.
It is identified there is a need to provide a new access to Elgin High School.
Further design development is carried out as well as environmental studies.
A pre-application consultation is held in September 2013.
Property acquisition started and a compulsory purchase order (CPO) is agreed and submitted to those directly affected by the scheme.
A planning application for the WLR was submitted and registered to the Council on Monday 7 April 2014.
The application for the WLR was considered at a planning hearing on 12 and 13 November 2014.
Following a vote (7-6-0), the Committee agreed to refuse planning permission on the grounds that the application was contrary to:
- Policy EP8 in that mitigation measures for noise and the potential increase in traffic were not satisfactory
- Policy IMP1 (a) in that the scale, density and character was not appropriate to the surrounding area
- Policy IMP1 (b) in that the development would not integrate into the surrounding landscape, one of which is very close to the wetlands area which has a special scientific interest
- Policy IMP1 (c) in that the level of adequate roads, public transport and cycling and footpath provision was not appropriate to the development in terms of pedestrian safety
- Policy IMP1 (i) in that conservation of natural and built environment resources had not been demonstrated and
- Policy T2 in that mitigation measures for the impact of development traffic and pedestrian safety were not appropriate and that the Designing Streets Policy had not been adequately adhered to in that matter.
Following this decision and to seek direction from the Council on the scheme, Officers submitted a report to Committee on 25 November. This Committee decided the WLR should remain a strategic project and recommended that this decision should be confirmed by the full Moray Council.
On 17 December 2014 The Moray Council agreed with this recommendation and instructed officers to proceed with a revised planning application which addresses the above points and to continue progressing all other work relating to the WLR in accordance with previous instructions.
In order to address the concerns from the previous planning application, WSP Consultants were asked to review the design on the basis of how it fits with Designing Streets and the new National Road Development Guidance. WSP led the multidisciplinary team who produced Designing Streets for the Scottish Government.
In parallel, a design review workshop was held at the end of June with those people who spoke, or had someone speak on their behalf, at the planning hearing in 2014.
These points were considered and a revised design was produced. Feedback and justification was provided. This revised design was subject to a review by WSP which included a Designing Streets Quality Audit and Street Technique as recommended by Creating Places.
A revised planning application is expected to be submitted in February 2016.
Frank Knight, Moray Council
Direct Services - Consultancy Section
PO Box 6760