The Courier

Historic Mearns landmark’s redesign set to start

The Royal Arch at Fettercairn.

Work will start in October to redesign a Mearns landmark following a public consultation.

The Fettercairn Arch is a Category B listed structure which was built in 1864 to commemorate the visit of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert to the village in September 1861.

Aberdeenshire Council carried out radical alterations on the B966 in 2015 to realign the road and install narrowing devices to prevent the majestic structure from being damaged.

© DC Thomson
MSP Liam Kerr.

The junction to the south of the arch was reconfigured with kerbing installed to narrow it and prevent heavy goods vehicles from passing underneath.

However, motorists have found it difficult to drive through the arch due to the vertical and horizontal alignment of the road and, as such, councillors called for the road design to be reconsidered.

Following a period of consultation it has now been announced work will start on October 1 and will take 12 days to complete.

North East region Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr said: “This issue has been a blight on Fettercairn because it’s driven visitors away and caused extensive damage to vehicles and the local economy.

“Local businesses and residents have continued to raise this issue as they’ve seen the impact on footfall and trade in the village.

“No one is happy having to risk damaging their vehicle on the road as currently set up so I am pleased the council have listened.

“They have settled on a solution which should prevent speeding and oversized vehicles whilst preventing wheel damage.

“Hopefully this will finally achieve the solutions required without continuing to damage trade in the village.”

The road will be aligned horizontally, allowing for a smoother passage of traffic, and the erection of low, long flower planters as a physical obstruction to oversized vehicles.

Aberdeenshire Council’s roads department carried out a vehicle swept path analysis of the traffic flows through the arch to determine the paths that vehicles take as they manoeuvre through the Arch.

The results have suggested an increase in lane and exit width to the current layout would prevent wheel damage to car drivers while still reducing speeds through the arch.

Mearns SNP councillor Leigh Wilson said: “I am delighted this work is finally going ahead and not before time.

“The work previously conducted was well intentioned but structurally flawed.

“I am well aware of residents who have struggled to negotiate their way through the arch and subsequently damaged their tyres in the process.

“Something had to be done and councillors have been raising this for some time.

“My colleague, Bill Howatson, had commented recently that the previous design and subsequent delay in changing it has been a trial in every sense of the word and I think that’s an appropriate way of framing it.”

Leigh Wilson.

Mr Wilson said he has asked the roads department to review the signage in the village to make it much clearer for motorists to see.

“Now we have a date we can all see light at the end of the tunnel and October will be a time of celebration for the people of Fettercairn,” he said.

“They have waited long enough.”

Mearns councillors George Carr and Jeff Hutchison said they were delighted work will finally begin to address the “crazy driving obstacle”.

Mr Carr said:  “It is one of our iconic listed Mearns structures and has been in need of some care and attention for some time.”