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‘This fight isn’t over’: Auchterarder residents rise up against A9 slip road plans

Developers hope a slip road off the A9 at Shinafoot will unlock approval for hundreds of new homes in Auchterarder

Alasdair Gow standing next to traffic on the Auchterarder-Aberuthven road with the Shinafoot junction behind him.
Resident Alasdair Gow says the proposed A9 slip road at Auchterarder will be a safety hazard. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Residents are being urged to bombard council planners with objections to a planned new slip road off the A9 at Auchterarder.

Community leaders say the Shinafoot proposal is desperately unpopular in the town and the neighbouring village of Aberuthven.

It was given the thumbs-up by the Scottish Government on appeal this autumn. That was after Perth and Kinross councillors had already turned it down.

The Holyrood ruling could open the door for hundreds more homes to be built in Auchterarder.

Stewart Milne Group and Muir Homes had been told they can’t construct any more until they improve access to the A9 Perth-Dunblane road.

But critics say the solution they are proposing is the wrong design in the wrong place.

Road signs pointing to Auchterader and Stirling and Aberuthven and Perth, as well as Shinafoot and Dunning.
The Shinafoot scheme is not the A9 junction locals had hoped for. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

And now they’re turning to people power to try to stop it in its tracks.

They hope to convince council planners it is not for the good of the community – and thus demolish the case for the project going ahead.

Housebuilding halted until Auchterarder A9 solution is found

The two housebuilders have already constructed around half of 800 proposed new homes in Auchterarder.

But Perth and Kinross Council has put a block on further development until they upgrade its connections to the A9.

Discussions over the years centred on an on-off ramp, serving traffic in both directions.

But the Stewart Milne/Muir Homes proposal is for a single off-ramp and slip road at Shinafoot.

Their option will direct traffic off the A9 and along a narrow, winding B road between Auchterarder and Aberuthven.

Narrow winding Shinafoot road with HGV in middle of carriageway after crossing a narrow stone bridge.
Locals say the proposed route of the new A9 slip road isn’t built to carry that much traffic. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

It’s supposed to be a cycling and pedestrian-friendly route, but it’s heavily used by HGVs and agricultural vehicles.

And opponents say the proposal poses serious road safety concerns – at Shinafoot and in Auchterarder – since the absence of an on-ramp means drivers will have to traverse the already congested high street if they want to join the A9.

It’s been estimated this will send an additional 1,000 vehicles and 70 HGVs through the town a day.

Meanwhile, there are fears that Aberuthven will become “a backwater” if traffic – including local bus services – is no longer allowed to exit the A9 there.

A9 plan ‘will affect everyone in Auchterarder and Aberuthven’

Alasdair Gow and his partner Shelagh Gregory live right beside the Shinafoot road in a lodge at The Orchard park.

They say they and their neighbours are already taking their lives in their hands crossing the road to collect mail and drop off bins at the Grand Eagles park on the other side.

Alasdair Gow standing next to entrance sign for The Orchard private holiday lodge development on the Shinafoot road with a LandRover passing behind him.
Alasdair Gow says traffic goes non-stop on the Shinafoot road as it is. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

The Ruthven water, which passes under the road also floods regularly.

“That junction is a major worry for us already,” said Mr Gow.

“The traffic never stops. But this is something that’s going to affect everyone in Auchterarder if it goes ahead.”

The couple were among dozens of objectors who attended the last meeting of Auchterarder and District Community Council.

The Scottish Government’s decision dominated the discussion.

And now the group is urging locals to write to Perth and Kinross Council planners, making clear they do not want the Shinafoot A9 slip road to go ahead any more than councillors did when they rejected it.

Chairman Ally Kay insists all is not lost.

Auchterarder High Street with cars parked in either side and traffic heading in both directions.
Auchterarder’s High Street could see hundreds more vehicles every day. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

“Developers can’t ask for compulsory purchase orders to buy land for big projects,” he said.

“That’s something councils have to do. And one of the points with CPOs is that they have to be for the good of the community.”

He added: “If the Auchterder and district community can demonstrate to the council that this is not being done for their good, then that case can’t be made.

“This isn’t over.”

Cheap option or culmination of years of discussion?

Local councillor Crawford Reid said the community was being saddled with “a cheap option that nobody wants”.

Crawford Reid in suit and tie with blue Conservative party rosette
Conservative councillor Crawford Reid. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

He has been raising concerns around issues such as flooding, road safety and air pollution with Perth and Kinross Council’s head of planning David Littlejohn and officers at Transport Scotland.

Mr Reid said residents felt their voices had been ignored, and they were counting on Perth and Kinross Council to negotiate a sensible, pragmatic compromise on their behalf.

“We, as a community are dreading the consequences of this proposal,” he added.

Speaking after the Scottish Government ruling, a spokeswoman for Stewart Milne Group said the Shinafoot option was “the culmination of many years of discussion over the design of the junction”.

She said: “Stewart Milne Group and Muir look forward to working with the council and the community to deliver much needed homes and community facilities within the town.”