Road safety fears could put the brakes on hundreds of new homes on the west of Forfar.
It comes after planning councillors blocked a developer’s bid for nearly 160 houses at Westfield.
Muir Homes’ proposal was slated by planning officials as having “significant design failings”.
They raised fears about future noise complaints from residents because of the proximity of Orchardbank industrial estate.
And councillors said a planned children’s play area near the busy A94 Glamis Road was in the wrong place.
But it was the Lochlands junction on the A90 Forfar by-pass which emerged as a key issue.
Transport Scotland warning over Lochlands junction
The southern access to the town is the only junction which is not grade-separated.
Multiple safety improvements have been put in place there since the by-pass opened in the 1980s.
Traffic can no longer cross the carriageway to turn northbound.
However, Lochlands remains the scene of regular accidents.
Transport Scotland did not object to the Muir plan.
But they said that was on the understanding Angus Council will bring forward an upgrade scheme for the A90/A932 junction before any other development on land zoned for housing on the west of the town.
Montrose councillor Bill Duff said: “I think this is a pretty serious issue.
“I can remember when the dual carriageway was built and Forfar had no grade-separated junctions – every junction was dangerous.
“We still have one junction that doesn’t meet modern standards and I think that’s unacceptable.
“Transport Scotland have not objected.
“That means this developer will get off scot-free for developing this junction while others that come along later are going to have to pick up the tab.
“This just looks like a mess.
“If you get in first, you’re going to get on without having to pay for upgrading the road, that’s my biggest concern.”
Development standards councillors unanimously backed the officers’ refusal recommendation.
Developer criticises ‘sweeping claims’
Muir Homes may now consider appealing the ruling after slamming the council’s planning report.
Company representative Elaine Farquharson-Black told councillors the document contained “sweeping claims” about the proposal.
Muir withdrew a previous application for the farmland before coming back with a revised plan at the beginning of this year.
She said: “Refusing this application makes the council susceptible to houses being developed on land outside Forfar (development boundary).
“No plots in the development will experience unacceptable noise.
“It’s a site allocated for development, but it is not straightforward.
“It is in my client’s interest to build safe developments – they have been doing that for 50 years and would do that here.”