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Highland Council planners have given the thumbs up to the creation of a new car park and associated footbridge at Glenfinnan to help alleviate traffic congestion problems caused by booming visitor numbers.
Last year saw the annual number of visitors to Glenfinnan top 330,000 with many flocking to see the local viaduct now immortalised in the ‘Harry Potter’ movies.
The car park planning application was lodged by Glenfinnan Estate for land adjacent to the National Trust For Scotland visitor centre.
The next step is for funding to be secured, after which the additional extra parking will see 10 coach parking spaces and 103 car parking spaces.
At the rear of the car park will be a turning head which will be adjacent to the start of a footpath that adjoins with the new footbridge.
The car park will be accessed via an existing access onto the trunk road which is to be upgraded.
In terms of design, planners say the new footbridge will not be detrimental to the sensitive nature of the Loch Shiel NSA (National Scenic Area) and Moidart, Morar and Glen Shiel SLA (Special Landscape Area).
There were no letters of objection to the application and the aim of the car park is to remove parked cars from Glenfinnan Estate’s access road and the
walkway and to direct visitors to the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
It is Glenfinnan Estate’s intention that the local community will manage the car park thereby generating income and a degree of additional employment in the area.
However, the new car park will not be used for overnight parking of caravans, campervans or other overnight accommodation.
Community council secretary Fiona Gibson said all those associated with the project are delighted planning consent has been processed quickly.
‘We are all over the moon planning approval has been granted. This is very much a joint effort between the community and a private landowner [the estate] which gives it a bit of a unique edge,’ she told us.
‘The next stage will be to secure funding and we are waiting to hear about that at the moment.
‘Added to this is the fact Transport Scotland is reviewing the 60mph speed limit on this stretch of road because something really has to be done here.’
Local Highland councillor, Allan Henderson (Caol and Mallaig), also welcomed the speedy decision on the planning application.
‘I am delighted that planning has been able to get this through so quickly, as this should help ease the funders towards a positive decision,’ he said.
‘Anything that can be done to alleviate the safety issue on the A830 has to be commended. The joint action taken by the partnership of the landowner and the community council also has to be commended and supported, and will surely achieve this aspiration.
‘For too long there has been an accident waiting to happen, firstly with the popularity of the National Trust Centre and now the Harry Potter phenomenon – so getting the cars off the A830 is a major step forward and also gives an opportunity for the village to get some return from this popularity.
‘Hopefully the road traffic authorities will now also see sense and increase the length of the 40mph zone, if not reduce it to 30mph, to beyond the visitor centre.’
Local community council chair Duncan Gibson said the car parking planning application’s approval is great news.