Appeal grants more parking for visitors at new Forth Bridge attraction
RAIL bosses have won an appeal against councillors who imposed a limit of just 39 parking spaces on their plans for a major new tourist attraction at the Forth Bridge.
Plans for viewing platforms on the Unesco world heritage site which would allow 85,000 people a year to climb to the top of the 120-year-old rail crossing were approved in March.
Network Rail proposed 78 parking spaces although estimates based on projected visitor numbers suggested around 57 cars on site at any one time.
Officials said the proposed parking provision was “acceptable” but the city council’s development management sub-committee voted to reduce it to 39 to encourage the use of public transport to the site.
However Network rail’s appeal against the condition has now been upheld and a Scottish Government planning reporter has set the parking at 57 spaces.
The reporter said since the viewing platforms and the visitor reception centre were an unusual development there were no guidelines on how much parking should be allowed, but he said using predicted visitor numbers and the expected proportion arriving by car was a fair approach.
But he said he could not see the statistical basis for the original proposal of 78 spaces, nor the council’s reason for halving it to 39.
He noted 155 letters were received by the council opposing the development and most of the objections were about extra traffic and parking problems.
He said: “I have no doubt, based on my site visit and the evidence lodged in connection with this appeal, that there is a significant long-standing problem with on-street parking in South Queensferry.”
And he said he shared the concern of the community council and local residents that reducing the capacity of the car park at the proposed development would increase traffic congestion and parking issues elsewhere.
He said: “I appreciate the council’s desire to encourage visitors to use sustainable modes of travel. However, bearing in mind the significance of the proposed development, which has the potential to become a major tourist attraction in Scotland, I consider that the car park should be designed to have the capacity to cater for vehicle traffic generated by the proposal.”
City council planning convener Neil Gardiner said: “We note the decision of the reporter and I’m pleased they have recognised some reduction in parking was required. Committee had sought a number which could be increased in a year’s time if necessary, in order at the outset to promote the use of public transport and active travel and also visitor spend in Queensferry High Street.
"There is a real opportunity for Network Rail to tie-up with ScotRail and promote visitor arrival by train as part of the World Heritage Rail Bridge experience.”
Change of responsibility for maintenance of Forth Road Bridge and Queensferry Crossing
Responsibility for managing and maintaining the Forth Road Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing has been switched from private operator Amey to rivals Bear.
The two bridges are now included in the contract for 314 miles of trunk roads in South East Scotland, which Bear won in a bidding competition earlier this year.
Amey previously held both the South East contract and the separate contract for the Forth bridges.
The change, which took effect at midnight on Saturday, means Bear - a consortium of Eurovia UK, Jacobs and Breedon Group - adds the South East to its existing responsibility for roads in North East and North West Scotland. Amey won the South West contract from another consortium.The South East contract, which runs for eight years with a possible extension for a further four, covers an area from just south of Dunfermline to the border with England and most of the way along the M8.
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