Calls for a new bridge to ease congestion in a rapidly expanding north-east town ended in stalemate yesterday.
The firm behind plans for a major expansion of Ellon has vowed it will not build a crossing across the River Ythan to tackle traffic concerns – despite repeated calls from councillors.
Almost 1,000 homes, shops and community facilities are planned for Cromleybank, to the south of the town.
Scotia Homes wants to build a bypass to take vehicles away from Ellon- and insists the majority of residents who have examined its proposals support it – while councillors want a second road bridge across the Ythan.
The Formartine area committee was asked to consider a development framework for the Cromleybank scheme, which included plans for the bypass, yesterday.
However, councillors rejected the suggestion and insisted they wanted the bridge – which was included in the local development plan in 2012 when the site at Cromleybank was allocated for housing and retail – brought forward.
Scotia Homes director Derrick Thomson told the committee that based on the latest consultation on the development, the majority of locals who showed up voted “overwhelmingly” – by 81% – in favour of the bypass.
He stressed that the local development plan only required Scotia to make a contribution to any crossing – and that the firm would not be responsible for its construction.
He said: “We will contribute to the building of a bridge, but we are not bridge-builders.”
He added that a second crossing would not solve traffic congestion and warned it was “potentially undeliverable” due to the need for compulsory purchase orders (CPOs).
He also said progressing with the bridge could be a “waste of taxpayer’s money”.
However councillors in favour of the crossing argued that it would prevent the development from becoming disconnected from the town-centre.
Ellon councillor Rob Merson said a bridge would make the heart of the town “more accessible”, adding: “Forming this link has been a fundamental part of the Cromleybank site.
“If we don’t do it now we have got one second world war bridge that is the link between the two sides of the town and in good planning terms that is wrong.
“I have given this a great deal of consideration. One of the issues is good town planning which connectivity and permeability, and the other issue is the traffic problem.
“Having given this a great deal of consideration we have got to make this decision from the perspective of good town planning.”
Councillor Isobel Davidson acknowledged a bypass would move “traffic more swiftly out of town”, but added: “There are benefits to both options, but if we don’t put a bridge in now we will never get one.
“We want to increase the permeability of the town. On the whole I am not unhappy with this (bypass). They both have merits. The 2012 local development plan says we should have a bridge.”
Mid-Formartine councillor, Cryle Shand, said: “In my mind there is two options there, the bridge and the bypass, and we have to choose one or the other at this time.
“I am of the view that the connectivity of the development is the priority in this instance. I am moved to go for the bridge.”
Councillors voted six to three for the bridge to be included in the development framework.
After the decision, Mr Thomson said: “Scotia are shocked at the decision reached by the committee with regards to their decision on Cromleybank. Scotia maintain that the southern bypass is a far superior and long-term solution which manages traffic coming through Ellon.”