Construction of the main North Fringe to Hengrove Package MetroBus route that will link Bradley Stoke with Cribbs Causeway and Bristol city centre may be yet to start, but South Gloucestershire Council is already in the early stages of planning an extension to the scheme, which will provide a more direct route between Parkway Station and The Mall, via the proposed Cribbs/Patchway New Neighbourhood (centred on the former Filton Airfield).
An outline plan shows the proposed extension forming a loop within the overall MetroBus network, and it is foreseen that buses will run in both directions around the loop between Parkway, the Cribbs/Patchway New Neighbourhood, The Mall, Patchway, Bradley Stoke and Parkway.
The existing narrow railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane would be replaced with a wider bridge and an extra traffic lane for buses.
The council has opened an ‘early information sharing’ consultation on the scheme, which is expected to cost around £35m and will be funded through the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.
It is anticipated that a planning application for the section of the scheme outside the Cribbs/Patchway New Neighbourhood will be submitted in autumn 2015, with construction starting in spring 2018 and services operating from spring 2019.
The proposed widening of Hatchet Road and Gipsy Patch Lane to accommodate new bus lanes received a hostile reaction from some Stoke Gifford residents at the Southern Brooks Area Forum meeting held on 18th November at Abbeywood Community School.
Bradley Stoke residents have a chance to hear a presentation on the scheme at the meeting of the Safer and Stronger Community Group on 22nd January at the Jubilee Centre (7pm start).
Read more: www.travelwest.info/metrobus/extension
This article originally appeared in the January 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,450 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
Postscript: Extract from the minutes of the meeting of the Stoke Gifford Safer and Stronger Community Group held on 20th November 2014
Alistair Rice, South Gloucestershire Council, attended the meeting together with Ben McGee (also from South Gloucestershire Council) and gave a presentation on the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension Project. The meeting was advised that this scheme was an extension of the North Fringe Hengrove Package (NFHP), which now had planning consent and is anticipated to start construction in 2015 and complete in 2017. A consultation on Traffic Regulation Orders for the NFHP had just started (see www.travelwest.info/NFHPconsult).
The proposed Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension would run between Cribbs Causeway and Bristol Parkway, via Hatchet Road, Gipsy Patch Lane (option to run through the Rolls Royce East Works Site), the Combination Ground and the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood. In combination with the NFHP, it would create a loop of anti- and clockwise MetroBus services, running every 10-minutes in both directions. Highway works would include an improvement to the Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge for the benefit of all users, plus schemes to benefit buses, cyclists and pedestrians on other sections of the route. The timetable for the scheme would see full public consultation on the scheme in summer 2015, followed by a period of detailed design, securing all necessary consents and land for construction 2018/19. There is a webpage with summary information – www.travelwest.info/metrobus/extension
The following issues were raised during the ensuing discussion:
- Concerns were raised by residents living on or near to Hatchet Road and Gipsy Patch Lane. Gipsy Patch Lane residents were concerned at the prospect of potential road widening and how this might affect their homes. Officers responded by stating that surveys are currently being undertaken to ascertain what options there might be for the construction of new bus lanes but at the current time the potential width of the highway, if it is widened to facilitate new bus lanes, is not known. Officers also emphasised that we are at the start of the process and that no decisions have been made; full public consultation will inform final decisions during later stages of the schemes preparation.
- It was suggested that Gipsy Patch Lane should be widened to allow it to be turned into a dual carriageway. Officers responded by stating that this is not something that the Council is proposing and is not part of the remit within which officers are preparing the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension.
- Residents asked why the scheme is proposed to be routed along Hatchet Road and why not, for example, via Brierly Furlong/Great Stoke Way/A4174. Officers responded by explaining that one of the aims of the MetroBus Extension is to travel between Parkway and The Mall, via the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood, in as short a time as possible. The time penalty to bus services would be too great if the route were to go in the other direction via Brierly Furlong/Great Stoke Way/A4174 as this would add approximately 1km to the length. There is also less potential for implementing bus priority measures along this route as well.
- The need for MetroBus was questioned by some attendees and concerns were raised about traffic volumes and potential disruption on Gipsy Patch Lane and Hatchet Road. Concerns were also raised regarding the 10 minute frequency of MetroBuses and if more buses are stopping on Hatchet Road this will cause more congestion than there is already. Officers responded by explaining that the opening of the Stoke Gifford Transport Link will provide relief to current congestion on Hatchet Road and that by providing improved travel options through schemes such as MetroBus, a proportion of car drivers will be encouraged to choose public transport rather than the car.
- Concern was raised that Network Rail would not allow or be able to close the bridge long enough for it to be replaced. Officers responded by explaining that Network Rail has and will be commissioned to design and build the railway bridge replacement. Network Rail will need to ensure that the bridges replacement is programmed at a time when the bridge can be closed for an adequate period.
- Concern was raised that the width of the bridge should be wide enough to future proof it. Officers explained that Network Rail are exploring different options for the bridges width.
- Residents asked if the bridge is listed. Officers stated that Network Rail has not stated the existing bridge is listed. The presence of the pill boxes was also raised and it was asked if they are listed – officers stated that they will investigate further. Subsequent to the meeting officers can confirm that the pill boxes are not nationally or local listed.
- Officers indicated that other than the bridge replacement, possible elements of the MetroBus Extension that are currently being investigated include an eastbound bus lane on the Gipsy Patch Lane approach to the Hatchet Road roundabout and a southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road. These schemes would result in ‘land take’, mostly from publicly-owned verges and open spaces, but some parcels of third party land would be needed. No properties/buildings would be needed for the scheme.
- Residents asked who is paying for the scheme. Officers stated that funding has been agreed in principle from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnerships Economic Development Fund. Cllr Keith Cranney stated that any bus gate constructed at the East Works site must allow for all forms of public transport to pass through it, including taxis. Officers agreed and assured attendees that further technical work and dialogue needs to be undertaken to decide on the form of the bus gate, if the MetroBus route goes through the East Works site.
- Cllr Cranney stated the dates of the subsequent Safer Stronger Community Group meetings at which officers would be giving the same Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension and he also stated that officers involved with the MetroBus projects will be present at the February 2015 Public Transport Forum meeting.
- It was emphasised by Cllr Cranney and officers that this is the start of the consultation with local communities affected by the scheme. Full consultation will be undertaken throughout the schemes preparation (next scheduled for summer 2015).