Network Rail blast 'arbitrary' Edinburgh Council in Forth Bridge parking row

The row is linked to plans for a visitor centre and viewing platform.

A row over a car park near the Forth Rail Bridge will be decided by the Scottish Government. Photo by Andrew Wilson/Scottish Viewpoint/Shutterstock
A row over a car park near the Forth Rail Bridge will be decided by the Scottish Government. Photo by Andrew Wilson/Scottish Viewpoint/Shutterstock

A row over the size of a proposed car park at a new visitor centre for the Forth Bridge has ended up at the feet of the Scottish Government.

Network Rail, who own and have developed the plans at the A-listed UNESCO World Heritage site for a centre and viewing platforms, labelled Edinburgh City Council’s decision to halve the planned number of parking spaces as “arbitrary”.

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When approving the plans, which were universally welcomed by councillors, the council imposed a condition on the proposals which would see a car park with just 39 spaces, a 50 per cent reduction from the submitted number.

Plans for the bridge would see the public given access to the world-famous structure via viewing platforms and a visitor centre

The decision to reduce the number of parking spaces was backed by the SNP, Labour and the Greens, but Network Rail have now appealed to the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division (DPEA) to overturn the condition.

In their appeal statement, Network Rail say the reduction in parking will lead to an overspill of around 17 cars and will see a full car park between 1pm and 7pm each day.

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It states: “Condition 17 requires a maximum of 39 parking spaces which is arbitrary. It will result in overspill parking to circa 17 cars at any one time (around 97m in length).

“This was a concern of the local community and there are existing problems due to the demand at the rail station and influxes of visitors at weekends. The car park will be full between 1300-1900, impacting on operation and secondary visits to the town.

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“It is considered that this is an arbitrary number with no supporting evidence or independent assessment.

“The car park should be for 57 spaces, as supported by the Transport Statement.”

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Network Rail add that the reduction in car parking spaces could reduce visitor numbers by as much as 275 people per day.

They state: “The reduction of parking spaces also has the potential to impact on overall visitor demand.

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“Assuming that those people who were intending on driving to the site, but no longer do so due to lack of available parking and also do not travel by any other mode, the potential reduction in cumulative visitor numbers over the course of a typical day is a ‘loss’ of approximately 275 visitors

The plans will install a viewing platform on the top of the south cantilever, with a reception centre and car park also constructed, allowing visitors to walk across part of the bridge while safely attached via a safety harness.

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The proposals also include increased active travel provision through bike racks and improved access to Dalmeny station.

The appeal will be decided by a Scottish Government reporter in due course.