Is new road solution to Bervie Braes issue?

DEVELOPMENT company, Deveron Homes, are looking to put land around the Bervie Braes forward as a potential area for future development with a plan which could see a new road being built linking Dunnottar Castle with Stonehaven.

Deveron Homes Development co-ordinator, Stephen Simpson, explained that the company has a “keen interest” in the local area and feel that with land they currently control, could find a solution to the “problem” relating to the Bervie Braes Road.

He said: “We believe that by utilising the land here to its full potential we could create a new link road that would distribute vehicular traffic from Dunnottar Castle straight into Stonehaven without having to worry about the prohibitive costs, or landslip potential that could be caused by reopening the existing Bervie Braes road.

“You will be aware that the call for sites stage of the local plan process will be approaching soon and we intend to put this land forward as a potential area for future development which could include a new road to link Dunnottar Castle to Stonehaven. Our plans are still in the early stages of development but we would be keen to work with the local community to help find a solution to this problem that will benefit everyone.”

Mr Simpson explains that they have not yet met with Aberdeenshire Council to discuss the matter of the provision of a new road.

One member of Stonehaven and District Community Council, Allan Sutherland, reacted to the possible development by writing an open letter to Ms Wiles, head of legal services for Aberdeenshire Council where he raises a number of issues relating to the Braes Road.

In the letter, he said: “I sincerely hope that our councillors and legal officials do not sleep walk into another debilitating round of house building “consultations” aimed at covering the slopes above Stonehaven harbour with houses - all because of some “risk” calculations regarding the opening of Bervie Braes to traffic mean it can’t be opended so a house builder can bribe his way into selling houses by building a road. And in the process deal another blow to the tourism industry.”

In the letter he also asks Ms Wiles if Aberdeenshire Council’s legal department is responsible for the decision to not open the Bervie Braes as it rests on the Legal departments assessment of the risks. He said: “The strong belief here in Stonehaven is that this (risk argument) is a simple excuse to enable the Council to give up being responsible for the road, thereby reducing on-going cost.”

In response to Mr Sutherland’s letter, Ms Wiles said: “I won’t respond to the rhetorical questions nor the political points you wish to make to the elected members but am happy to advise that, from an officers perspective, The current position is that, despite the Council having instructed works up to the available budget on the Bervie Braes, there remains a residual risk of slippage.

“The Council’s intentions when it instructed those works was for the road to reopen to pedestrian and cycle users only. The latest suggestion that the road reopen to vehicular traffic is a quite different proposition and at the most recent meeting of Policy & Resources Committee on November 15, I recommended that the Council would require to have a full risk assessment undertaken including the legal liabilities that appear to me to require consideration.

“However, I did stress that since this would be a change of direction regarding the future road usage, it had not thus far benefitted from a full analysis of the risks and possible resolutions of those risks not least the legal position and that the Council’s elected members would require to have that in front of them before taking any decision. Officers were instructed to undertake that assessment and my service is working alongside The Roads Service to achieve this as speedily as possible given the complexities.”