Bath & North East Somerset Council has today (Tuesday 11 July) set out a new approach to addressing the issues of traffic and transport in Bath, particularly to the east of the city. As part of this new approach, the Council has announced that, subject to the agreement of the Cabinet, plans for an east of Bath Park & Ride will not go ahead on either sites B or F (west and east of Mill Lane).
Alongside this announcement the Council has also launched an integrated transport plan for Bath that brings together a package of joined up transport improvements to help meet rising demand and reduce the impact of traffic on local people.
Some of the measures set out by the Council include:
- working with Highways England to deliver an A36-A46 link road to reduce through-traffic in Bath;
- holding discussions with the West of England and South Glos Council about improving the route to and from Lansdown P&R, particularly at the junction of Freezing Hill Lane and the A420, to make Lansdown a more convenient option for those travelling from the M4/A46 and enable potential future expansion;
- improving access to Odd Down P&R by repositioning the bus lane and opening it up to cars accessing the P&R, again enabling potential greater use of this existing site in future years;
- holding further discussions with Wiltshire about potential opportunities further out from the city, potentially linked to an extended MetroWest rail service;
- undertaking a scoping study for a light rail (tram) system in Bath and whether this could open up future opportunities to remove vehicles from the city;
- undertaking a study of ‘School Run’ transport needs and solutions and consider any further opportunities to expand the Council’s existing ‘safe routes to school’ programme.
Park and Ride to the east of Bath
The Cabinet will consider the report proposing not to progress with site B or F based primarily on road safety grounds on Wednesday 19 July.
The national standard for road designs, the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, desires a distance of 1km between junctions to allow traffic to move into the correct lane and avoid side-swipe collisions. The distance from the junction to site B is 258m and the distance from the junction to site F is 576m.
At the time of approving the recommendations to progress either site B or F in January 2017, officers believed that it would be possible to achieve an acceptable junction design as specified in the technical standards. However, as explained in the report at that time, additional technical work would need to be undertaken with regards to road safety in order to be reassured that safety would not be compromised.
Having undertaken further design work officers consider that access into site B cannot be safely achieved due to the close proximity of the proposed access to the junction of the A46/A4. In addition, negotiations with the landowner’s agent over a reasonable period have failed to reach a suitable agreement for the land purchase required for Site B.
In relation to site F, changes to the design standards mean that the Council cannot assume that access to site F would be safe on the basis that this site was granted planning consent in 2009. Whilst site F provides a greater opportunity to design an acceptable access than site B, it is not considered appropriate to invest further expenditure on the design of an access road without the certainty it will meet the necessary criteria and be supported by Highways England.
The expenditure undertaken on the project so far has primarily been related to traffic modelling and feasibility studies which can therefore be used as evidence to support alternative proposals related to addressing congestion, air quality and the economic benefits of reducing traffic entering the city from the east.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) said: “Improving transport and tackling Bath’s traffic problems remain one of our highest priorities, which is why we have set out a range of measures aimed at addressing this important issue. This includes moving ahead with plans for an A36-A46 link road to reduce through-traffic in the city, looking into the feasibility of a light-rail tram system, improving access routes to our existing Park & Rides, investing in local rail services, and holding further discussions with neighbouring councils about potential opportunities further out from the city.
“It’s no secret that the eastern Park & Ride has long been a challenging issue for the city, with strong views on both sides of the debate. However, after talking with engineers, visiting the locations again and discussing options with our partners, we must consider the wider picture, take the broadest view of new opportunities and ultimately put the safety of road user first.
“At the same time, we also recognise the high value which the local community places on site F in particular as an open space, and this site was the least favoured of the three sites that were put forward in the public consultation two years ago.
“In light of the issues with site access, and taking into consideration all the various factors with these two sites, it is therefore recommended that the Council should not proceed with either of these sites and we should instead commit all our efforts to pursuing the other traffic and transport measures we have set out, thereby ensuring we can make a real difference to addressing this issue in the years ahead.
“We still remain firmly committed to providing appropriate out-of-town parking as well as tackling congestion, supporting economic growth and improving air quality on all major routes into the city. We remain convinced that getting the right mix of city centre parking, out of town parking and encouraging people to travel via different forms of transport is important for economic growth and meeting the future demands of a growing city. However, we consider that neither site B or F are now suitable and, subject to agreement of the Cabinet, will be removed from the table.”
Councillor Mark Shelford (Conservative, Lyncombe), Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways, said: “I have asked officers to bring forward a report setting out alternative transport and travel schemes that can be considered to reduce the levels of congestion on the roads in the east of the city and subsequently included in a delivery plan. We are conscious of the impact of too much traffic on too few roads, particularly at peak times, and committed to dealing with the issues.
“No single transport initiative in isolation has the power to transform our travel choices, cut congestion, improve air quality or ease parking issues. That is why we also asked officers to review all of the potential transport initiatives as well as new opportunities from trams to the possibility of increasing the frequency of rail services to the east.
“One of the game changers is the formation of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). Over the next 30 years, £1bn of investment from central government and other sources will be made available to support the economic growth of our region. This level of investment unlocks opportunities at a scale not seen before and we need to factor this into our long term planning.”
Integrated over view of transport
The Council remains committed to delivering a wide range of joined-up transport improvements, as it looks to help meet rising demand for transport networks and reduce the impact of traffic on local people. An outline of this integrated transport plan has been unveiled today.
The plan reiterates the Council’s commitment to providing parking on the outskirts of the city to reduce congestion on arterial routes, improve air quality and support economic growth.
It also includes:
- More short term parking in the city
- Championing an A36/A46 link road
- Ensuring that all large new business and residential developments are closely linked to the transport hubs
- Improving public transport and looking at ways to encourage more people to use alternative transport
- Moving unnecessary heavy goods vehicles outside the city
- Improving walking and cycling routes
- Feasibility studies into a light railway rapid transit system
- Feasibility studies of trams in the city and the possibility of using the river for transportation
There are potential funding streams currently available from central Government and the Department for Transport which are starting to be used to fund transport-related strategies and projects.