TRANSPORT Scotland are pushing for a housing embargo in Auchterarder until millions of pounds worth of junction improvements are carried out on the A9.
And to raise the cash needed, developers are to be asked to make a financial contribution to the cost. Even if just one house is being built, money would have to be paid.
Members of the council's Enterprise and Infrastructure Committee were told on Wednesday afternoon that land at Auchterarder's northern edge – Kirkton and Castlemains – and Townhead Farm, to the south-west, has been identified as sites for housing and business use.
In consultation with council officers and a community Steering Group, a consortium of developers, comprising Muir Homes, Stewart Milne Homes (formerly A&L King) and Richmond Homes have drawn up a Master Plan for the area.
Called the Auchterarder Expansion Development Framework, is was approved in March of this year.
The plan indicates that a major upgrade to the A9 Junction of Loaninghead (Gleneagles) and the creation of a new junction at Shinafoot, to the east of the town, would be required in the interests of road safety.
That would include the closure of the central reservation of the existing Auchterarder Junction to prevent right-hand turns across the A9.
The cost of these roadworks is put at £10.5 million.
Transport Scotland have identified a number of development thresholds in relation to the requirement for trunk road improvements. They are:
1 Under 50 houses – no improvement needed.
2 50-350 houses – Loaninghead improvement required.
3 Above 350 houses – Shinafoot and Loaninghead improvements both required.
In his report to councillors, Jim Irons, executive director (environment), stated: “An e-mail was received from Transport Scotland on September 10 indicating that the first threshold had been met and that they would be advising refusal of future planning applications within the Auchterarder area on road safety grounds until a suitable protocol was in place.”
A boundary has been established within which developments would be subject to the embargo.
But the consortium of builders have written to the council expressing concern over the “burden of costs” they are bearing for the removal of the Transport Scotland constraints.
The consortium point out that other developments would also subsequently benefit from the junction improvements, without making any financial contribution.
They want the council to draw up a suitable protocol to ensure that ALL developers would be treated on an equitable basis in respect of cash contributions to the junction upgrades.
Mr Irons revealed that there are currently planning applications for far in excess of 350 houses pending in the Auchterarder area.
Approval of all of these would exceed the next threshold, triggering the Shinafoot Junction improvements.
Transport Scotland have offered to contribute £1 million towards the Loaninghead Junction upgrade, leaving £9.5 million to be funded by developer contributions.
GWest, who are planning a multi-million pound golf and leisure development near Auchterarder, will also be making a contribution.
Mr Irons added: “In order to ease the burden on any individual developer, further investigation needs to be undertaken to establish suitable mechanisms to calculate the contributions requested.”
As the Herald went to press Councillors were still deciding whether or not to accept the development embargo set by Transport Scotland and agree the principle of developer contributions towards the A9 road improvements. If agreed, Mr Irons will be asked to report back at a later date on the proposed contributions policy.