Inquiry leaves a great many questions unanswered

The inquiry into the Local Plan held recently in Laurencekirk left a lot of questions unanswered, Mearns Community Council heard on Monday.

Laurencekirk member Jim Stuart said that the inquiry focused a lot on infrastructure, but argued that officials were working from flawed statistics.

“There has been a shortfall in infrastructure in Laurencekirk over the last 30 years, but they argued this was due to a lack of demand. On the provision of land for employment, again they tried to say there was no demand.

“The inquiry was very much developer led. it is clear Laurencekirk is now just a dormitory for Aberdeen, where once we had a strong manufacturing base. No one has ever asked a commercial developer what he would do in the town.

“I always say that the prime job of a council is to improve the quality of life of citizens.

“I left that inquiry thinking our quality of life would not be improved a lot by what they are trying to achieve.”

Councillor George Carr said it was interesting to see the reporter look at things from his own different perspective.

“It threw up a lot of issues and I have to say that the situation in Laurencekirk is a bit of a dog’s breakfast.

“Transport Scotland say we need two grade-separated junctions, one to the south and one to the north.

“Our decision to go for development at the north end has taken the focus away from the south end and that is where we need grade-separation. I cannot see us getting two flyovers.

“A lot of things are questionable on delivery, such as a link road to the west of the town. We will probably need another primary school as well and there is no way we will get developers to pay for it all.

“It was however made clear that grade-separation at the south junction should be top priority.

“There is a five year window before the next local plan review and we must see where we should be going. I feel we should have started development at the south end and worked up.

“I found the Transport Scotland stance difficult to comprehend. They say we need two flyovers whereas previously they refused even one.

“The inquiry took Angus into account as well. There is a lot of housebuilding in the Montrose area and this will add to the pressure on the south junction with commuters going to and from Aberdeen.”

Provost Bill Howatson said it was possible that all development in Laurencekirk could be stymied until there was grade separation.

“The 77 houses proposed at the south end will not pay for a flyover.”

Councillor Tom Fleming said they should lobby for the A90 to be made up to motorway standard and then all the flyovers required would follow.

It was argued that this would made access on to the road more difficult, but he argued that would be a price worth paying.