At a Planning Hearing today at Stirling Council, a decision on Network Rail’s application to replace the Kerse Road Bridge was deferred due to the lack of a traffic assessment being provided. The application will now be heard at another planning hearing in June, at a date still to be determined.
Braehead Community Council Chairperson Chris Kane spoke at the Hearing. His statement is below:
Whilst I cannot fault Network Rail’s willingness to engage, I do fault their ability to provide the information necessary for meaningful dialogue and input.
Our local communities and our local businesses will have to bear a cost if this application is approved. Unfortunately we do not know how much of a cost because a complete traffic assessment has not been shared with us.
Over twenty thousand vehicle journeys a day will need to find an alternative route and many of them will drive through Braehead and Broomridge, regardless of where any official diversion may be – local knowledge trumps diversionary signposts every time.
The safety of our children walking to school and that of our elderly and less mobile neighbours getting to our community centres or community shops could be jeopardised, but we simply don’t know because the traffic assessment is not complete.
This is unacceptable to my community, as is the prolonged nature of the closure. I cannot believe if Network Rail were replacing a bridge over the M8 or M9 motorway that they would be allowed to close either of these roads for up to a year. It is bewildering that an organisation that can bring engineering greatness to bear on projects such as London’s Crossrail cannot turn that engineering greatness to the comparatively straightforward task of replacing one road bridge. We realise that to the rail network Kerse Road bridge is nothing special, but to Stirling’s road network it is vital.
We are not entrenched in our opposition. We would like this Hearing to give Network Rail the opportunity to turn us from opposers to supporters.
We would like you to consider delaying a decision on all of this until a later date. This would allow Network Rail and Stirling Council time to produce the traffic assessment and work with us to mitigate any problems. Our communities should not be penalised because Network Rail failed to prepare a traffic assessment in a reasonable time frame. Neither should Network Rail be rewarded for an inadequate consultation process.
A delay would also allow Network Rail time to bring to bear the talents of their incredible engineers to rework the problem and reduce the proposed closure time.
The impact of this application, to my mind, deems it to be of such important to my community, Riverside Community, Mercat Cross Community, the businesses of Springkerse and the City Centre, that community voices must be heard and our opinions given proper consideration in this process.
It is in nobody’s interests to have communities in acrimonious dispute with Network Rail for the next twelve months. This could be avoided if Network Rail simply worked with us in a considered, not rushed fashion and I would ask that this Hearing give an opportunity for meaningful dialogue and decisions to be made by deferring all of this application to a later date when the necessary information has been provided, assessed and road safety concerns addressed.