Transport Scotland has accused Perth and Kinross Council of mistakes which derailed long-standing plans for a new 1,500-home village on the outskirts of Perth.
The Scottish Government controversially seized control of the Oudenarde project in January, just as councillors were ready to approve plans for the first phase of development.
The move angered developer Geoff Brown, who said he was preparing to take the case to the Court of Session.
Now papers released by the government have revealed the behind-the-scenes scramble to halt the project, showing that Transport Scotland lay the blame for the debacle at the council’s feet.
An e-mail to Kevin Stewart MSP minister for local government and housing, from Holyrood planners, claimed that a planning condition insisted upon by Transport Scotland had been omitted by mistake when plans for the site were finalised.
The roads authority was unhappy that the council was going to approve stage one — a total of 159 houses — without a condition insisting that paperwork was in place showing how the site at the old Bridge of Earn hospital would link safely to the M90.
In a letter to then planning boss Nick Brian, Transport Scotland’s national operations manager Stuart Wilson wrote that the government body had tried to promote the development “whilst maintaining the clear need to maintain the safety and efficiency of the road network”.
In the note from January this year — two days before the application was called in — he said: “It is through a series of procedural errors on the part of the council that we find ourselves in the situation that Transport Scotland’s requested planning conditions… have not been imposed with significant implications for efficient and safe operation of the strategic road network.”
Mr Wilson added he was disappointed that a report which went before councillors did not “accurately reflect the exhaustive, and complex, background context to the position taken by Transport Scotland”.
In further correspondence, released following a freedom of information request, an email between Transport Scotland and senior planners at the Scottish Government said that project leaders GS Brown had written to the council in October 2017, asking for the Transport Scotland condition to be removed claiming it “would impose a burden that could be a dealbreaker”.
A follow-up email reveals the Scottish Government wanted the council to delay its decision. A planner wrote: “The short-term solution is to get the council to postpone the application going to committee on Wednesday.
“This allows some breathing room for the main parties to get together and have a proper discussion around the way forward.
“The council are being pressured by the developer to reach a decision, but any intervention we have at our disposal would cause significant delays.”
The government’s planning and environmental appeals department is expected to rule on the development before the end of June.