Path from Blindwells to Prestonpans Station

When Hargreaves obtained Planning Permission to create a new town at Blindwells, a requirement was placed on them to build an attractive and accessible route to the rail station at Prestonpans, and to Preston Lodge School. Now that housebuilding is well underway, and after extensive discussion with East Lothian Council as to the practicalities of the route, this is now being progressed.

The main criteria are that the path must be suitable for users of all abilities (walking, cycling or in wheelchairs), and be attractive to use. This means that it must have suitable gradients, and be wide enough for people rushing for the train to be easily able to overtake others who may be going a more leisurely trip or heading in the opposite direction. Therefore a minimum wide of 3m was specified. It is also important that the route is well overlooked to enhance feelings of security.

While the original proposal had been to create an off-road path to the south of the railway, it eventually became clear that it would be difficult to achieve the 1 in 20 gradient required for the whole route, and not all the land was available to build on. There were also practical difficulties in crossing the railway, both at the station where the path would terminate on Johnnie Cope’s Road, and in going to the school, as the current footbridge over the railway heading to Preston Crescent is too narrow.

A revised proposal was then presented to the Council which included new pelican crossings of Gardiner Terrace for the pedestrian route, with 1.2m-wide cycleways demarcated by bollards on both sides of the road. This was rejected on the grounds that there was no protection proposed for cyclists as they crossed junctions, and because it would not be attractive for families and young teenagers. There were also concerns about the need to remove on-street parking from outside properties, and that the cycleways would be difficult to maintain in the medium and long-term (restricted access to gullies for cleaning, and difficult ot keep clear of debris, possible damage from vehicle collisions with bollards).

The preferred option then became a 3m-wide shared-use path on the south side of the road. Although much of the space required can be taken from the carriageway, there is some unavoidable impact on the verge, and up to 6 trees will need to be removed. However, this will be mitigated by more than 20 new trees being planted. This option has the added advantage of narrowing the road to the extent that traffic speeds will naturally be lower. Putting the shared-use path on the north side was also considered, but this would have meant that cyclists may be passing garden gates at speed, so the southern verge was preferred. A toucan crossing (for people on bikes or on foot) at the Miner’s Memorial will allow cyclists to join the network of quieter roads as they head to the school.

After engaging with residents of Meadowmill and Gardiner Terrace, Hargreaves further agreed to install an additional signalised crossing to specifically aid people heading from Prestonpans to Meadowmill (the crossing will replace the traffic island here), and to re-surface the path from Bankton Terrace to Preston Crescent.

The daffodil bulbs and the trees displaced from the verge will be re-planted in the bus layby at Johnny Cope Stone, creating an attractive gateway feature for Prestonpans.

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