Sandwich claims off the menu at Falahill

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Network Rail says a new road layout at Falahill will not entrap the tiny community of 11 homes between the new railway and A7.

The quango is wishing to drop its proposals to add a double roundabout to the A7, and have submitted an application to Scottish Borders Council for an alternative design which would see the road continue close to its current alignment, with the railway passing underneath, south of Falahill.

The newly submitted scheme will be welcomed by commuters who feared longer journey times and a possible safety hazard with the double roundabout, but Heriot Community Council (CC) chairman John Williams still has concerns.

He told The Southern: “The new design looks the preferable of the two options but the whole idea of the two roundabout layout was that both the railway and road would be on the eastern side of the 11 properties at Falahill.

“If this proposal goes through, the road will be on the west side and the homes will be sandwiched between the A7 and the railway.”

But Craig Bowman, communications manager with Network Rail, believes that would not be the case.

He told us: “We feel this is the best option for drivers of the A7 and provides a little bit more space for the cottages.”

He added that a National Grid gas main, that would cost over £4million to move, would not be affected by the new design, and there would not be additional costs to the £300million Borders Railway Project.

Mr Bowman added: “This is a slightly less challenging engineering solution we have put in place now, provided it gets passed by planning.”

Galashiels and District councillor Sandy Aitchison, who last year said the double roundabout plan was “short-sighted and frankly ridiculous”, described the latest proposals as common sense.

He said: “Now we have a sensible solution that considers road users, who will be the majority of travellers, and their safety.

“It would also be an excellent outcome for the environment, minimising light pollution.

“The local ratepayers will also benefit since the expensive annual maintenance costs of these follies will no longer be necessary.

“I feel sorry for the residents at Falahill. Whatever the decision, they have had a very uncertain few years and it is shameful that their lives have been so dreadfully disrupted by unnecessary changes and uncertainty.”

Heriot CC are likely to call a special meeting to discuss the new proposals.