Construction traffic deemed an accident waiting to happen at Borders housing estate

Derek McQueenie outside his home in Knoll Terrace at Melrose Gait.
Derek McQueenie outside his home in Knoll Terrace at Melrose Gait.

Fears that children will be seriously hurt by construction lorries have led to calls for a new site entrance to be created at one of Galashiels’ largest housing developments.

Almost 50 trucks a day are currently passing through Melrose Gait, at Easter Langlee, and one resident believes it’s only a matter of time before someone is hurt.

Derek McQueenie says the majority of the trucks are going through the housing estate above the 5mph speed limit and, despite meetings with traffic managers this week, they are still posing a serious danger to the dozens of children spending their holidays playing on the estate.

“A lot of the lorries are speeding, mounting the pavement and squeezing through tight access roads,” he said.

“It’s frightening, really frightening.

“Some parts are really tight for these eight-wheel, artic-size lorries, and there’s just two feet either side if they take it slow.

“If they don’t take it slow, they’re mounting the pavements where kids could be playing.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen.

“I try not to blame the drivers as they have a job to do, but there’s no way the majority of them are sticking to 5mph.”

Mr McQueenie, 63, who moved to Knoll Terrace from Edinburgh a year ago, says he was not aware construction work on the Persimmon Homes development would involve traffic sharing the single entry road in and out of the site.

And with only four of the seven phases of the 552-home scheme complete, construction traffic looks set to be trundling through the site, from the B6374 Melrose road, for another two years.

“The whole management of the site is wrong. It should never have been like this,” widower Mr McQueenie added.

“They should have been up front and told us that they would still be bringing the lorries through after selling this phase of houses and that they had no intention of creating another, even temporary, entrance.

“I would like to see these lorries using another road in and out.

“I met the man in charge of these trucks and he said a second entrance was ruled out due to costs.

“They are putting costs ahead of children getting knocked over by one of these juggernauts.

“I am scared to death to let my three-year-old grandson out to play when he visits.

“Any parent that sees this would be shocked. I shudder to think what could happen when I see the kids playing on the pavements which the lorries are often mounting.”

However, according to Persimmon Homes, a new access road is on the way for construction traffic – but not until it reaches the final phase of the building works.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “Melrose Gait has planning permission for 552 homes in total, and 171 are still to be completed over the last three phases.

“We have attempted to try and access the development via the refuse tip to the north, but unfortunately, with restrictions on access due to excessively steep slopes and land ownership issues, we were unable to secure a second access.

“This has resulted in all lorry movements using the main entrance.

“Now that residents’ concerns have been brought to our attention, we have spoken directly to our civils contractor and the haulage contractor is now taking action against individual lorry drivers that are not compliant with the speed limit.

“The earth-moving exercise being undertaken at the moment will be completed within the next 10 days and will see approximately 30-40 lorry movements per day.

“We have consent to construct a second access route when we move on to phase seven.”

The development, approved in 2012, includes a mixture of one and two-bedroom flats and two and three mid and end-terraced homes, alongside four and five-bedroom detached houses as well as a park and bus stop.