Portree Link Road reaches planning stage
Councillors have noted the funding position and proposed delivery programme for the Portee Link Road as the project moved to the planning submission stage.
The creation of a Link Road forms an integral part of the long term and strategic expansion of Portree at Home Farm. It has been identified in successive development plans including the West Highland and Islands Local Development Plan (WestPlan). The Link Road serves both the development at Home Farm and connects the A87 Dunvegan Road with the A855 Staffin Road.
The Home Farm expansion is nearly complete, the road link has been constructed in line with development. The final, undeveloped section will provide the connection to the A855 Staffin Road.
Skye and Raasay area committee chair, Cllr John Gordon, said: “Members unanimously agreed today to progress the planning permission of the Portree Link Road to submission stage. This is a key milestone and an integral part in improving the roads network on Skye.”
Completion of the Link Road will unlock the last phase of Home Farm (allocated site North of Storr Road in WestPlan) and open up land at Kiltaraglen (Kiltaraglen South and Kiltaraglen North) which forms the future strategic expansion of North Portree.
These allocations are dependent on the completion of the Link Road and as set out in WestPlan. These, along with other allocations along the Link Road, are required to make developer contributions towards its delivery. The Council will work with the developers of these allocated sites to ensure suitable access and infrastructure provision is factored into the plans for the completion of the Link Road.
The Portree Link Road is also a key component of the Skye and Raasay Future (SARF), which is currently being prepared by The Highland Council, in conjunction with Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The SARF will highlight that the completion of the Link Road will contribute greatly towards the emerging outcomes and be a trigger for other projects to help the recovery and regeneration in Portree and the wider region.
Completion of the route between the A87 and A855 will allow for better distribution of traffic in the area, avoiding the need to travel through the town centre. This will help reduce congestion in the town centre and at the junction to the harbour. The completed Link Road will also provide greater scope for the organisations involved in the public sector co-location project to relocate.
For example, emergency services require to be strategically located with direct access to the main arterial routes and without the Link Road, options for this are limited. In turn, these changes offer the potential for a range of major regeneration opportunities for Portree town centre.
An application to the Infrastructure Loan Fund – a Government financing initiative scheme to provide upfront funding to facilitate housing developments was approved (noting that this is an interest free loan), but a mechanism to pay off the loan is required. At the Economy and Infrastructure Committee on 5 May 2021, it was agreed that in order to progress development of the strategic expansion of North Portree, there is a requirement to complete the link road from the Home Farm development through to the Staffin Road. The use of the infrastructure fund will enable design work to commence and negotiations to be entered into for the land assembly and deliver the new link road.
The scheme estimate is £1.6 million and developer contributions of some £1.4m is anticipated. Roads capital allocation of the balance of £200k was approved at the Economy and Infrastructure Committee in May, from the Strategic Roads Schemes – Capital Allocation – report ECI/15/2021. As Developer contributions are received this will be used to pay off the outstanding infrastructure loan amount.
The land required for the scheme will be provided predominantly by the housing developers – whose developments are associated with the delivery of the link road; negotiations will commence to aim to acquire land required from three landowners by agreement. Detailed design work is ongoing – this will allow the planning application to be submitted in Summer/Autumn of 2021.
If planning permission is obtained and agreement over access to the necessary lands are received, it is proposed to invite tenders for the construction of the link road early 2022 – this will allow a start of construction in Spring/Summer of 2022 –with completion anticipated in late Autumn/Winter of 2022.