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NO TO CROSSING: A second community group has opposed Highland Council plans for Lochloy rail crossing in Nairn

By Donald Wilson

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Lochloy bridge option
Lochloy bridge option

A second Nairn community council is opposing the design and location of a proposed active travel footbridge across the railway line to the A96 from the Lochloy housing estate.

Nairn River Community have already voiced their opposition to the plans.

And they are now receiving support from Nairn West and Suburban CC (NWSCC) which agrees that the real solution should be a road crossing to take vehicles as well as pedestrians and cyclists over the railway to the trunk road

Although not a statutory consultee chairwoman of NWSCC Sheena Baker said they felt they should make their views known on the idea of the rail crossing, first mooted thirty years ago and now at an early stage of consultation.

The council agree with local residents that the proposed site has been significantly compromised due to the release of the allocated land to developers and the subsequent building of houses immediately adjacent to the proposed bridge crossing location.

"On the Balmakeith industrial park (across the railway line) there has been a similar occurrence which has been only partially mitigated by the allocation of a gap site for a compliant ramp and the connecting path.

"We now feel that the current proposed site is now so compromised in reality it is unsuitable for the proposed crossing and that none of the designs

made public are suitable or satisfactory.

"We would suggest a possible alternative would be to move the actual crossing approximately 500 metres east of the current proposed location, this alternative location could use the existing landscaped mound and shrubbery to mask the abutment ramp on the north side and a straight linear ramp on the south side could connect back to the original planned gap site.

"This would benefit cyclists as well as pedestrians and would neatly link into the existing excellent path network within the estate. It would also connect up current housing such as Boath Park and beyond to enable them to walk or cycle to the King Steps and Culbin Forest areas and further afield."

The community council adds that although it is outwith the remit of the consultation, they suggest a new road link at the east end of Lochloy linking with the Nairn bypass should be considered during the early stages of the select and concept process.

"Additionally, we consider that future developer contributions collected from recent further development in the area should be assigned and allocated

towards a south and east link over the railway.

"Developers contributions (DC) have been collected from every house built in the now extended Lochloy area. We would urge some 'blue sky' thinking on this aspect at HC to redeploy these collected DCs in the event that a bridge proposal does not go ahead. The use and allocation of DCs for community facilities should reflect local priorities/needs and be based on consultation with the community which needs to be public, open, and transparent."

Current DC guidelines 2018 state that contributions will not usually be tied to the delivery of any given project.

She added: "If the Lochloy community come to the majority opinion that in 2021 the crossing is no longer relevant or required we would strongly recommend that the funds be reassigned to other local solutions which take account of the changed circumstances and which reflect the current identified transport and community needs."

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