A7 realignment plans at Falahill given go-ahead

The new plans for the A7 road at Falahill.
The new plans for the A7 road at Falahill.

Controversial plans to ‘sandwich’ homes at Falahill between the A7 and the Borders Railway have been approved by the council.

It is the third version of proposals for the routing of the road and railway at the location, and is expected to save cost and time due to its design.

Residents in the cottages at Falahill who opposed the plan had argued that there was a previous undertaking that their homes would not be left between the two.

However, on Monday councillors agreed that the latest design was far more satisfactory than that approved in 2011, which would have seen two roundabouts created to divert the A7.

Councillor Michelle Ballantyne commented: “This is a huge improvement from what we had before.”

The plans include provision of sound barriers on both sides of the cottages.

Development control manager John Hayward added that the A7 would, in general, run further away from the cottages than in the previous scheme, but did admit that at some points it would be closer.

Mr Hayward said the roundabout scheme would have had a “significant urbanising effect” on the small community of Falahill.

Roads officer Derek Inglis added that the roundabouts would have had a negative effect on traffic flow, but would have allowed for passing thanks to overtaking lanes running off them.

Mrs Ballantyne said: “Compared to having two roundabouts and accelerating traffic, I think this scheme is the lesser of two evils.”

Several members asked whether there would be any provision for the bridge to the south carrying the A7 to be extended to enable a double-width track to run beneath it.

Mr Hayward said this was a matter for Network Rail.

Ahead of the meeting, the Campaign for Borders Rail (CBR) had urged the committee to reject the plans on the basis that the bridge would not accommodate twin tracks. Nick Bethune, of CBR, said the specification of the railway had been “cut back in a way that will severely limit its future potential” on the basis of “short-term cost factors”.