Visitors to an historic country park are not using its main entrance because they do not realise it is there, councillors were told this week.
Dalkeith Country Park operators appealed to Midlothian Council’s Local Review Body to overturn a decision by its planners to refuse to allow new signage outside its main entrance.
Representatives for the park told the review body that the King’s Gate entrance, which was opened in 2016, was intended to draw visitors away from a town centre access to the park but many drivers drove past because of a lack of signage.
And they proposed two curved free standing stone walls – which would be placed 20 metres in front of the historic Category A-listed gate walls – with Dalkeith Palace and Country Park engraved into them as new signs.
The review body was told planning officials had refused planning permission for the new walls, arguing they would have a “significant detrimental impact on the setting of the important Category A-listed walls”.
However, Robin Holder, planning consultant representing the park estate, said the signage was essential to make the entrance, off Old Dalkeith Road, its main access point.
He said the move was intended to draw traffic using the Town Gate entrance in Dalkeith itself away from the town to reduce congestion.
In 2016, a Restoration Yard and Fort Douglas project opened up the King’s Gate to welcome cars from the A720 and protect Dalkeith High Street from excess traffic and protect pedestrians from increased traffic using
the Town Gate.
Mr Holder said that one of the problems facing King’s Gate was the lack of clear signage at the entrance.
He said: “Many car drivers do not realise that the King’s Gate is the entrance. Oftentimes, cars are past the entrance before the driver realises the error and continue on to enter at the Town Gate.
“The existing brown signs are not enough of a marker to drivers looking for the correct entrance.
“The entrance gates are set back and there is no arrival signage to confirm to drivers that they have arrived at the correct place.”
Planning officers insisted that signs on the road leading to the entrance were sufficient to alert visitors to it; however, councillors on the Local Review Body found in favour of the appellants.
Councillor Colin Cassidy said that ensuring King’s Gate was used as a main entrance would help alleviate traffic problems in the town centre.
He added: “I think you have to make an impact with the entrance if you are going to make it a main entrance.”
Fellow review body member Councillor Peter Smaill said that he had initially been against the new walls; however, he said having listened to the arguments that he found “it is impossible to find a better solution”.
The review body agreed to grant the appeal and allow the walls to be built.