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Designers say steps needed to ensure Elgin housing development does not become rat run

Central belt based planners Optimised Environments developed the masterplan for Bilbohall.
Central belt based planners Optimised Environments developed the masterplan for Bilbohall.

Designers have insisted the main thoroughfare through a Moray housing development has to “strike a balance” between ease for new residents while deterring extra traffic.

Fears have been raised the Bilbohall project in the south of Elgin could be turned into “rat run” for motorists trying to get from one side of the town to the other.

The housing development, which will spiral up the grassy knoll next to Elgin High School, has been in the pipeline for more than a decade – and was originally drawn up as part of the aborted Western Link Road plans.

Now steps are being taken to ensure the new estate, which could have up to 260 homes, deters traffic from using it, instead of being seen as part of a congestion-easing solution.

But last night, Elgin City South councillor John Divers feared it would be difficult to dispel the perception of the site being seen as a quicker route across the railway.

He said: “It may well become a rat run. People will always take the quickest route.

“Originally it was designed with the Western Link Road in mind, and there were a whole heap of safety requirements, like crossings, that went along with that.

“Yes, the houses are badly needed in Elgin but the development needs to be right.”

Tomorrow Moray Council’s planning committee will debate a draft masterplan for Bilbohall to agree to another round of consultation.

Yesterday, committee chairman Marc Macrae revealed traffic concerns had already been widely raised during the project.

He said: “The bridge over the railway has been brought up a lot, the perception is that it’s not big enough. The important thing is that we get the infrastructure to match the development.”

Widening the Mayne Farm Road crossing to two lanes and building a new footbridge has been proposed as a possible solution to the railway bottleneck.

Consultants Optimised Environments, who have drawn up the draft masterplan, have recommended a primary street through the development to link Wards Road and Edgar Road.

However, they have recommended it does not take a “direct route” to deter lines of traffic driving through the development while proposing calming measures to ensure the speed limit is obeyed.

The report explains: “The design of this street will need to strike the right balance between providing route choice for residents whilst deterring through-traffic between the south and west of Elgin.”

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