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Row continues over planned bus gate in Inverness hospital grounds

By Val Sweeney

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A planned bus gate in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital has prompted an outcry.
A planned bus gate in the grounds of Raigmore Hospital has prompted an outcry.

A planned bus gate through the grounds of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness will deliver much-needed improvements to bus services, community leaders insist.

Proposals to create a bus gate from Churchill Road/Ashton Road on Raigmore estate and through the hospital site to Old Perth Road, have prompted an outcry from residents, citing the felling of mature trees and detrimental impact on those living nearby.

But members of Raigmore Community Council, including chairman Munro Ross, say there has been misunderstanding and misinformation about the project which is required as a planning condition for the construction of the elective care centre at Inverness Campus to alleviate congestion on surrounding roads.

In a statement, they say the bus gate delivers long-requested improvements in services.

They will also hold Highland Council and NHS Highland to their commitment that for any tree taken down – understood to be a maximum of 12 – two 4ft tall trees will be planted in an agreed area.

They say: "The community council would welcome suggestions for where it would be best to plant them.

"The community council reminds all that the planning condition requires to be fulfilled and it has no power to overturn this decision.

"Only the developers can ask the council to amend their planning consent.

"As the community council wishes the elective care centre to open, it would be opposed to this happening."

Seven routes for the bus gate were discussed to identify the best one as a major difficulty was accommodating helicopters using the designated landing area. The chosen route – which has secured £500,000 from Scottish Government Bus Priority funding – will go along the Centre for Health Science, through the main car park, close to Osprey House, into Raigmore Avenue and onto Churchill Road by Shenavall Centre.

The community council says the bus gate has been a regular topic at community council meetings since 2008 and that it has also fought to retain and improve bus services.

"The community council continues to fight for improved services, in particular to allow access to Inshes Retail Park and beyond and for evening and weekend services," it states.

It adds that regular community council meetings, which are open to the public, are held on the last Monday of the month at 7pm in the Raigmore Community Centre.

Although no meeting has taken place since February 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is hoped to hold one in May subject to restrictions being lifted.

Related story: Opponents of planned bus lane vow to continue campaign

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