Aberfeldy centre plans unpopular with OAPs
Community Council expressed concern at the £900,000 proposals expected to get under way in the spring.
Small businesses reportedly decided that Aberfeldy’s centrepoint could be the key to boosting trade in the town by being an attractive focus for tourists. Three years on from initial talks, detailed plans have been shown of the square, levelling and paving the two sides bisected by the main road.
The advanced proposals remove all but seven of 20 current parking spaces and expect shoppers and those working in Aberfeldy to park in other nearby streets.
Meeting last Thursday, members of Glen Lyon and Loch Tay Community Council voiced concern about the change and what it would mean for Highland Perthshire’s increasingly elderly demographic.
Treasurer June Riddell said: “I understand that in 10 years’ time 70% of the population will be
over retirement age. They need more, not less, central parking in Aberfeldy.
“Why is the council doing this [moving parking out of the square] and why were we not consulted at any point?”
Kath Douthwaite, vicechair of Glen Lyon and Loch Tay Community Council, had visited the recent exhibition of plans. She said: “It is distressing that we are only becoming aware of what it will be like at the very last minute.”
Community council chair Sue Gardener agreed to draft a letter to PKC, complaining that while Aberfeldy Community Council had been consulted, those from Kenmore, Dull and Weem and Glen Lyon and Loch Tay had not been asked for their input.
She explained that Aberfeldy was the shopping and service hub for the wider area’s population who were overwhelmingly dependent on their cars.
“For older people, who cannot be expected to walk any distance, this idea of being forced to park out of the square is highly unwelcome.”
Speaking up for the Aberfeldy proposals, Councillor Xander McDade countered: “I believe an improved square will help tourism.
“These plans are at an advanced stage and likely to go ahead. And while I see people will miss leaving their cars in the square, they enjoy free parking throughout Aberfeldy, which is not the case in Pitlochry, Dunkeld or the majority of other places.”
Highland ward councillor Ian Campbell, who has seen the Aberfeldy square idea throughout its development, was not present at Thursday’s meeting in Fortingall.
But a spokesperson for Perth and Kinross Council said: “The Aberfeldy Square regeneration project is the result of four years of collaboration between the council, Aberfeldy Small Business Association (ASBA) and Aberfeldy Community Council, with the overarching aim to help support and sustain local economic growth.
“As per the details of the final proposal which was displayed in the town in late October 2017, seven parking spaces, including a dedicated disabled bay, will be included as part of the project.”