Councillors call for rethink on 'very dangerous' junction at Conon Bridge amidst go-ahead for 235 new homes
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A Ross-shire trunk road junction branded "very dangerous" was at the heart of debate over new housing developments in Conon Bridge, as councillors called for further meetings with Transport Scotland.
Housebuilder Tulloch Homes secured approval for 235 new houses in Conon Bridge after Highland Council gave two applications the green light last week in line with recommendations from local council officers.
The Conon Braes South development is an extension to the existing development, Conon Bridge North. The community will include 160 private and affordable homes with open space, as well as a pedestrian link from Pocket Park to maintain walking routes through the site.
But the development's impact on the junction leaving Conon Bridge on to the A835 has sparked fears for safety, with councillors raising concern over an increase in traffic.
During Tuesday's committee debate, councillor for Dingwall and Seaforth, Margaret Paterson noted the "many accidents" and deaths that have occurred on the junction, one as recently as last week, and made an impassioned plea for a rethink on the proposals.
She said: "This is a difficult decision for me because I do agree that we need houses. Especially as we look forward to the development of the Freeport, as that development will need homes for workers coming into the area.
"But I do worry about the impact of the number of houses in one area. It is a concern to many residents of Conon Bridge. They come to me and say you have to object yourself, but sadly people don't. They say to me that although the village has grown from a lovely wee village to a huge village, it still remains a great place to live.
- 235 new houses get the green light to be built in Conon Bridge
- Recovery completed after two-vehicle collision on A835 near Conon
- Man taken to Raigmore Hospital after smash involving lorry and minibus on A835 near Conon Bridge in Ross-shire
"But there is a major concern. That concern is the A835 junction. It is not safe. There has been many accidents and sadly, death. We as a planning committee have in the past put forward our concerns to Transport Scotland.
"Myself and ex-councillor Alastair Mackinnon both stated that we would not agree to any more houses in the braes of Conon until the junction is upgraded. The committee agreed with us. Nothing has been done and there has been a lot of accidents, the latest one just last week.
"Sadly people have died at this junction, and we really need to press for Transport Scotland to recognise how dangerous the junction is. The Conon junction on to the A835 has become congested and dangerous, and the building of more houses will add to the amount of traffic using the junction.
"There are many upgrades that can be done to make it safer. The filter lane should be longer. There should be lighting as its very dark in the area. Traffic calming measures. Widening of the road. These are just a few suggestions that could make it safer. Surely Traffic Scotland have engineers that could suggest other safety measures?
"We have asked many times in the past for a serious rethink on this junction before more casualties or deaths occur. We also stated that it should not be part of any further developments put in front of us. I will continue to object until Transport Scotland and Highland Council improve this very dangerous junction."
Councillor Angela MacLean highlighted the importance of pushing ahead with the building of new homes in the area, but stressed that a further meeting must be held with Transport Scotland to address outstanding suggestions for improvement at the junction.
Cllr MacLean said: "I understand what Councillor Paterson is saying and I know the community would want this to be refused, but I cannot vote against the recommendation to approve because we need more houses and we need the infrastructure. We need the redevelopment of the Highlands and we need to have houses for our residents and people that are to the Highlands to live in.
"We as a local authority have had meetings with Transport Scotland and others over the years. I know councillor Trish Robertson raised the junction back in 2021, and we had a meeting raising many of the concerns last August and Transport Scotland had consulted the community on suggestions for improvements. Much has not happened yet.
"I would ask that we have another meeting with Transport Scotland as it has been over a year."
Highland Council planner Michael Kordas noted that any developer contributions for upgrading the junction is in the development plan, but with regard to the trunk road, it would be the responsibility of Transport Scotland to agree any additional specific financial contributions.