Context

Context

High traffic volumes are causing delays and unreliable journey times along the existing A701 corridor which is also affecting the reliability of public transport. Congestion along the corridor is expected to increase as committed developments and land use allocations within the Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP) 2017 are built.

Previous attempts to resolve capacity issues on the A701 have not been enough to effectively address the scale of the problem. The existing A701 carriageway is also too physically limited to cope with the increased traffic demands of planned development along the corridor.

The proposals represent essential infrastructure, necessary to support the scale of planned development in the A701 corridor. In tandem with the new roads the A701 Relief Road and A702 Link Road Project is an opportunity to turn the existing A701 into a more sustainable transport corridor. In turn, the released capacity and re-routing of traffic would relieve much of the congestion on the existing A701 and provide greater scope to give more road space over to public transport, walking and cycling.

IMAGE: Extract from MLDP Proposals Map (2017)

Policy Context

The South East Scotland Strategic Development Plan (2013) spatial strategy identifies the A701 corridor as one of three Strategic Development Areas in Midlothian. Growth is to be directed towards these Strategic Development Areas with committed developments agreed under the adopted Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP).

The A701 Corridor Strategic Development Area will provide for a mix of housing and commercial development in line with allocations stated within the MLDP. This corridor is expected to make a significant contribution to Midlothian’s economic prosperity. The strategy supports the continuing expansion of the Midlothian Science Zone and sites have been allocated with support given to development in line with the Bush Framework Masterplan. This has the potential to provide for a significant increase in research and knowledge-based jobs.

As noted, the A701 corridor currently experiences significant traffic congestion which is likely to increase because of this planned development. To address this, the adopted MLDP has committed to deliver the A701 Relief Road to the west of the current A701 along with a link to the A702. This will have a positive impact on current congestion issues and provide future capacity to support growth along the A701 corridor and in the surrounding areas.

The proposed A701 Relief Road and A702 Link Road will bypass, and provide relief for, the current congested A701, enabling the current road to give priority to public transport, cycling and walking with improvements to support these modes of transport. There will be a significant benefit to commuters throughout the corridor and the proposal will help further growth at Midlothian Science Zone.

It is anticipated the A701 Relief Road will improve the environment of the current A701 by removing a significant proportion of cars, especially those travelling from Penicuik and the Scottish Borders. The proposed A701 Relief Road will improve traffic flow in the A701 corridor and promote active travel.

An effective transport network with enough capacity to accommodate the travel demands of communities and businesses and their future growth is fundamental to the development strategy of the MLDP.

High traffic volumes are causing delays and unreliable journey times along the existing A701 corridor which is also affecting the reliability of public transport. Congestion along the corridor is expected to increase as committed developments and land use allocations within the Midlothian Local Development Plan (MLDP) 2017 are built.

Previous attempts to resolve capacity issues on the A701 have not been enough to effectively address the scale of the problem. The existing A701 carriageway is also too physically limited to cope with the increased traffic demands of planned development along the corridor.

The A701 Relief Road and A702 Link Road Project is an opportunity, therefore, to turn the existing A701 into a more sustainable transport corridor. In turn, the released capacity and re-routing of traffic would relieve much of the congestion on the existing A701 and provide greater scope to give more road space over to public transport, walking and cycling.

Geographical Context

The study area being considered lies to the south of Edinburgh and covers an area west of Bilston and Loanhead from the A702 in the vicinity of Easter Howgate, to the Straiton Junction on the A701.

The A701 is the key connection for this corridor, with the A702 and A703 providing additional north-south routes. The A701 is an urban road with a posted speed of 40mph and includes bus lanes and on-road cycle lanes in discrete sections. The A702 and A703 are rural national speed limit roads. The A703 contains sections of 40mph speed limit within the vicinity of the scheme. In addition, Pentland Road provides an east-west connection between the A701 and A702/A703 and is also a rural national speed limit road. Both the A701 and A702 roads currently have capacity problems.

The area under consideration consists of changing landscapes with ground levels rising roughly 60 metres from Straiton Junction to the A702 at Boghall. The area includes several different land uses including, green belt, agricultural land, industrial, housing, archaeological features, Old Pentland Cemetery and Cameron Wood. The area also contains Clippens Landfill, Pentland Mains landfill, and Straiton Bing.