MORAY Council has been accused of an "unnecessary and expensive" proposal to create a large roundabout and road realignment for Elgin’s controversial £3 million relief road, which will destroy a large part of an iconic garden.
Elgin couple Douglas and Linda Williamson have urged the council to reconsider the proposal for a roundabout on the A96 and realignment of Sheriffmill Road, which will cut straight through the garden of their listed home.
They insist that the roundabout could be relocated by a few metres and claim that the realignment of Sheriffmill Road is unnecessary.
Council officials have claimed that the current junction with Sheriffmill Road is too close to where the roundabout will be constructed, making it necessary to realign Sheriffmill Road.
However, the couple, who have lived there for 30 years, believe the council’s insistence that the road is redirected through their garden could be a precursor to future housing development in the area. They have erected large protest signs in their garden, alerting people to their concerns.
The couple have held discussions with the action group fighting the plans to take the relief road down nearby Wittet Drive.
"This is such a beautiful site, and almost unique. The garden is greatly admired, but all the trees at the front will come down to make way for this new road," said Mr Williamson.
"We have red squirrels in the garden, and lots of bats, and the other day we had two roe deer in the garden."
Mrs Williamson added: "It is very short-sighted of the council, and such a waste. They have come up with four different plans, but they all come through our garden. They are hell-bent on realigning Sheriffmill Road."
The couple believe that realigning the road, which leads onto the single-track Jock Inkson’s Brae, will encourage more people to use it as a rat-run to avoid traffic jams on the main trunk road.
"I am not against progress, and if progress meant we had to lose this garden, I would accept it, but this seems so unnecessary," added Mr Williamson.
He said there are many other examples in Elgin of junctions much closer to roundabouts.
The relief road, which will require the demolition of two private houses in Wittet Drive, will connect the west end of Elgin withNew Elgin, and include a new railway crossing at Bilbohall.
A Moray Council spokesman said: "The final position of the proposed roundabout for the Western Distributor Road will be a matter for BEAR Scotland. Discussions have already taken place with residents of Wittet Drive and neighbouring properties about the proposal, and further consultations will take place as part of the planning process for the proposed road, which allows for objections to be taken into account before approval is given."