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Planning decision on Kirkwall housing site roads deferred over fears of creating a ‘rat-run’

Orkney councillors deferred their decision because of concerns about traffic.
Orkney councillors deferred their decision because of concerns about traffic.

Councillors on Orkney Islands Council’s planning committee have decided to defer their decision on a planning application for roads and infrastructure for a 138-unit housing development in the West Kirkwall, over fears of creating a “rat-run”.

Members viewed a planning application from the local authority itself, to build access roads, footpaths, install boreholes and drainage for 138 houses to be built at Corse West.

The applications for the houses themselves has not yet come to the committee.
Some members of the committee raised concerns about one of the proposed access roads increasing the level of traffic in the area.

Councillor David Dawson was the first to raise the issue. He asked: “How critical is the access from Muddisdale Road? That’s a very popular walking route and there are plans there to widen the road.

“Obviously it will increase traffic, particularly construction traffic once the building phase starts. We’re trying to encourage people to walk for recreation and health. This will deter folk from walking up there.

“Why is access from Glaitness road insufficient? Why should there be this Muddisdale access? I am concerned about creating a rat-run.”

‘It’s about the permeability of the town’

Council planning manager Jamie Macvie responded: “It’s about the permeability of the town. What we’ve seen as the town has developed is you’ve got all these bits of development without any means at all of getting through to the other parts of the town.

“It’s about that fine balance of creating a means of getting through without making something that’s attractive as just a shortcut.”

Councillor Sandy Cowie also had concerns about the same proposed access road. He said: “I suspect this will become a preferred route for vehicles from this new housing area heading westward onto the Stromness Road, out to Hatson Industrial Estate, down to the supermarkets, and down to Glaitness School.”

Mr Cowie understood that the new road could be made complex and traffic calming measures could be used. However, he said he felt the other routes already open to drivers came with their own “complexities”.

Mr Cowie added: “I would feel much more comfortable if the egress onto the Muddisdale Road was purely for pedestrians and cyclists. After all, it is accessing what we principally see as a recreational area – the Pickaquoy Centre, the Muddisdale Woods.”

‘You’d have problems with emergency access’

Donald Wilson, the council’s roads authority officer had his own concerns, saying that amending the road layout would create a “massive cul-de-sac with one access.”

He said; “If anything happens on that access, any maintenance needs to be carried out, no vehicles would be able to move. You’d have problems with emergency access.”

Mr Dawson responded: “That we would have issues with a single access, I don’t think stacks up well. We have other large housing estates in the town with single access. There has, to date, been no issue there.”

In total, the council received 25 objections from residents living near the planned development, at Solisquoy Loan and Muddisdale Road.

Moira Sinclair spoke on behalf of her parents who objected to the application and live near the area in question being spoken of.

‘I would hate to see someone flattened by a car’

On the roads issue, she said: “The road access down on to Muddisdale, there’s a lot of people who use that as a pedestrian route. Rightly so, it’s a beautiful area to go for a walk. There are also children walking to go to school.

“My concern is the safety of pedestrians. It’s not suited to that amount of vehicle traffic, I would hate to see someone flattened by a car.”

While it was not a unanimous choice to defer the decision on the application, that is what the committee decided to do.

This is so planning officers could address the concerns of councillors and discuss changes to the application.

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