Plans for Westfield aerial bridge takes a step forward

Plans to widen four major roads in Falkirk and build an aerial bridge to take pedestrians and cyclists safely across them came a step closer to reality.
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Members of Falkirk Council’s emergency executive heard that the Westfield roundabout project is  ‘shovel ready’ and officers are ready to apply for planning permission, thanks in part to funding from Europe.

Councillors agreed that work to widen all of the approach roads to the Westfield roundabout – which links Falkirk town centre with Grangemouth and the M9 – should go ahead as soon as possible.

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Acting director of development, Douglas Duff, said that the project would play a major part in the council’s economic recovery plan – creating 540 construction jobs and helping to deliver the Falkirk Gateway site near Helix Park.

But creating dual carriageways on each road leading to the roundabout will make crossing already busy roads almost impossible – so planning permission will now be sought to create a futuristic looking network of bridges over the roads.

The Westfield crossing, as it is currently known, has been given £2.4 million of European funding for low carbon travel and transport.

The rest of the cash for the project will come from Falkirk’s TIF, which borrows money against future non-domestic rates to fund infrastructure projects.

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Councillors agreed that delivering this project was top priority for the council, and it would bring huge economic benefits to the area.

Councillor David Alexander said: “When you look at the Westfield Roundabout, the difference this would make to the traffic flow would be quite significant.”

Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “The whole project sits very well with our economic recovery plan.

“It will bring jobs and opportunities, particularly for local people and gives that enabling infrastructure that will lead to more investment coming.”

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Members of Falkirk Council’s executive were told that soaring costs of construction meant that other projects funded by TIF, including the upgrade to the Avon Gorge and Grangemouth’s flood prevention scheme might be delayed.

Mrs Meiklejohn said she was confident they had a good case to take to Edinburgh, although she appreciated they were giving priority to dealing with the pandemic at the moment.

She added: “In the meantime this was a good, local project that will bring confidence and a bit of a boost to the local area.”