Long-awaited Denny bypass faces more delays as it goes to Scottish Government

Denny residents face yet more delay and frustration as a dispute over a long-awaited road that will bypass the town centre is taken to the Scottish Government.

By Kirsty Paterson
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 4:40 pm
Paul Garner at Denny Eastern Access Road. (Pic: Michael Gillen)
Paul Garner at Denny Eastern Access Road. (Pic: Michael Gillen)

That means work on the Denny Eastern Access Road (DEAR) - which was finally expected to start last summer - is still on hold.

After two years of talks, no agreement has yet been reached between Falkirk Council and the landowners involved; Callendar Estates - which also has tenant farmers whose land will be affected - and Avant Homes, the housebuilder which is developing the Mydub area.

The new road, which will lead from Broad Street to Glasgow Road and take traffic away from Denny Cross, is desperately needed to provide access for the residents of hundreds of new homes that are being built in the area.

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Denny Cross (Pic: Michael Gillen)

In June this year, the council initiated a compulsory purchase order so that work could begin - but four objections, including ones from Callendar Estates and Avant Homes, mean nothing will happen for a while.

The objections mean that the CPO has now been referred to the Scottish Government’s Planning and Environmental Appeals Division.

And that could well mean that a public enquiry will have to be held before a decision can be made - all of which will add substantially to the time and cost of the project.

The delay is frustrating for residents who face lengthy delays in traffic which snarls up in Denny Cross every day, leading to higher pollution levels and also rising tempers among some impatient motorists.

One Denny resident wrote: "After another near miss whilst driving my car through Denny cross, I would like to be informed when this new road is being built, to stop these dangerous driving practices when using the traffic lights at Denny Cross."

The exasperation is understandable - the project was first mooted as far back as the 1970s and has been discussed throughout each of the decades that followed.

For Councillor Paul Garner - who is Falkirk Council depute leader and environment spokesman as well as a local member - the delay is incredibly frustrating and he has called on the other parties to get back round the table.

He said: “Vehicles should have been travelling along the new road, known locally as DEAR, by now but to my utter frustration this is not the case.

“This unfortunate hold-up is due to land acquisitions proving more protracted than I’d hoped for and expected after my initial meetings with some of the objectors.

“A reporter will be appointed to review the objections and Falkirk Council’s responses and, if required, hold a local public inquiry to gather further evidence from all parties.

"Once the inquiry has concluded and the reporter has reviewed all the evidence, a report will be sent to Scottish ministers with a recommendation on whether to allow the CPO to proceed or not.

“Due to the objections, this CPO process must now be followed, leading to a very lengthy delay and costing council tax payers money in costs incurred in relation to objectors and rising construction costs.

“If, however, the objections are retracted, we can move swiftly forward with getting DEAR in place.

“We remain more than happy to sit around the table with the main objectors and discuss how we can progress with this much-needed infrastructure for Denny and the surrounding areas.”

The main landowner, Callendar Estates, say they also want to see the DEAR go ahead - and that they would also prefer to be round the table to find an agreement.

In a statement on behalf of the estate, Guy Wedderburn said: "Callendar Estate remains fully supportive of the DEAR and the Council’s plans to complete the road.

"We feel strongly that the issues that remain unresolved with our development partner should be addressed through dialogue with the relevant departments within the Council – roads, estates and planning - in the normal manner.

"Whilst we have had to object to the CPO to protect our position, we continue to engage through our development partner who is promoting the planning application for the next phase of the residential development at Mydub and the completion of the DEAR.

"This includes facilitating site investigations and agreeing appropriate access for our tenants who will be affected by the DEAR.

"We are of the view that the planning application process, not the CPO will unlock the unresolved matters and deliver the final part of the DEAR."

In the objections sent to the DEPA, the tenant farmers say the land being requested is more than is needed for the project and that will impact on the viability of the business.

Avant Homes is also concerned that a small section of land will be locked out by the project, leaving them unable to build on it.

Another objection also came from Gordon Jack, who is concerned about the impact the road will have on the health of pupils at Denny High School, with air pollution and noise.

Phase one of the road - which goes past Denny High School - has already been built and the council is expecting developer contributions to fund the rest.

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “A works package has been prepared for the construction of DEAR for over a year, and we remain committed to delivering the project.

“There has been a delay due to land ownership issues but once this is resolved we will be able to progress plans for the completion of the scheme.”

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