Orkney councillors have once again deferred their decision on a planning application affecting a new care home for Kirkwall.
The council’s planning committee met this morning to discuss the council’s own proposals for roads and infrastructure in the Corse West area, west of Kirkwall.
These would be used for a planned 138-house development.
However, the proposals include a drainage detention basin that would be crucial for a new care home to the north-west of the site.
The last time councillors viewed the application, on December 1, they weren’t happy.
They said the proposed roads were likely to be used by traffic more than the council intended.
There was particular concern over the use of Muddisdale Road for the new housing area.
The road is a popular route with walkers and is used by children on their way to school. The plans also received 25 objections from people living in the area.
At this morning’s meeting, council planners came back with proposals carrying additional measures to meet these concerns.
This included road widening, more street lighting and two build-outs put in the road, all at Muddisdale.
There would also be measures to reduce the speed of cyclists at the length of cycle path joining Muddisdale. Despite these additional measures some councillors still weren’t satisfied.
Traffic mitigation measures fail to satisfy councillors
Councillor Sandy Cowie, who moved for a site visit, said he felt the potential solutions were looking increasingly expensive. He said: “The real solution is to not have the egress onto Muddisdale at all.”
He said many other areas in Kirkwall have managed fine with only one means of access.
Councillor David Dawson, who eventually moved to refuse the application, had suggested that bollards could be used to create limited access for bin lorries and emergency vehicles to the new houses.
However, this was shot down by council officers.
Mr Dawson said he isn’t against the proposals per se but has “serious reservations” about the need for two access roads.
He said it seemed to him that “any other option than the Muddisdale Road access is likely to be ruled out at any cost”.
He said: “The mitigation measures don’t offer me any comfort. All they do is strengthen my belief that the development of Muddisdale Road is totally unnecessary.”
Chairman has casting vote – twice
Councillor Dawson took issue with the view that 25 objections are not of sufficient weight to merit refusal of the application. He said that, while they may be evidentially light, cumulatively the objections offer significant concern.
He added: “I feel that the voice of householders offers little against the thunder of developers.”
The conclusion of the meeting saw an even split between councillors, not just once but twice.
Committee chairman Rob Crichton had the final say both times.
An initial vote was held to either refuse or approve the application.
With five members having voted for each option, Mr Crichton had the casting vote. He said that this was something he has only had to do twice before.
However, it was only minutes before he had to do it again, this time on whether the application should be approved or deferred pending a site visit.