Transport chiefs have warned that plans for a new £66million jail in Inverness could clog up two busy city roundabouts.
Local authority roads experts have highlighted potential “capacity issues” at the A96 Aberdeen road’s junction with the Eastfield Way route, and the adjacent roundabout for access to the retail park.
And they want a series of conditions added to the any approval of the planning application for the new HMP Highland, which was lodged with Highland Council in May.
At almost 130,000sq ft, the new jail would be twice the size of the current Porterfield Prison in the city’s Crown area, accommodating about 200 inmates from the Highlands, islands and Moray.
A transport assessment submitted by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) found that the development would “not have a significant impact” on the two key roundabouts.
But council officials have disagreed in their response to the planning application in principle, saying that “both junctions will exceed their practical modelled capacity for weekday PM and Saturday peak periods” if the plans go ahead.
They added that “there are issues with the ability of the existing network to satisfactorily accommodate the predicted trips from this development”, with models showing queuing back to the second roundabout on Eastfield Way.
To address the issue, the council engineers have recommended that any planning permission is granted on condition that shift times at the prison are agreed in advance with the local authority to avoid peak periods.
They also called for a condition to require the SPS to produce an appropriate “travel plan”, having found that “no specific objectives or targets have been proposed for the travel plan, or any proposals for the ongoing monitoring and reporting” its progress.
However, the council’s transport department was satisfied with SPS proposals for 200 parking spaces at the site, saying it “should be sufficient for the anticipated need”.
The SPS hopes that work on the new prison can start in December next year and be finished by August 2020, subject to funding agreements being struck
The wave-shaped design of the main building has been inspired by the River Ness, and it would be located 65 yards from the Vue cinema, 60 yards from the Forest Enterprise building and within 115 yards of offices at Stoneyfield Business Park.