A decision on plans to widen Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford, to accommodate a new southbound bus lane for the proposed Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) route has been deferred by South Gloucestershire Council.
The CPME is an extension of the MetroBus network which will extend the North Fringe to Hengrove MetroBus route that is currently under construction. The CPME will provide a fast and direct link between Bristol Parkway station and The Mall bus station via the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood.
The proposed CPME scheme links Bristol Parkway Station and The Mall bus station, via Hatchet Road, Gipsy Patch Lane, through the former Rolls-Royce East Works site, along North Way, under the A38 via the existing underpass at the Combination Ground junction, and through the former Filton Airfield site (earmarked for redevelopment as part of the Cribbs Patchway New Neighbourhood).
Strong opposition to the Hatchet Road widening, which would require a strip of land to be taken from Meade Park (resulting in the loss of some trees) and the removal of hedgerows on both sides of the road south of Meade Park, was evident in the results of a public consultation on the proposed CPME scheme that ran from November 2015 to January 2016. Of the 95 responses relating to Hatchet Road, 75 are classified as objections. Additionally, a separate, independent online petition titled ‘Do not widen Hatchet Road’ has attracted over 500 signatures.
Many of the objectors, along with Stoke Gifford Parish Council, suggested an alternative route out of Bristol Parkway Station – following Hunts Ground Road, Great Stoke Way and Winterbourne Road, before joining up with the originally proposed route along Gipsy Patch Lane.
The parish council also expressed the view that the Hatchet Road widening element of the proposed scheme is “premature” and should be delayed until the effect on local traffic conditions of the currently under-construction Stoke Gifford By-Pass is known.
Stoke Gifford’s three South Gloucestershire councillors, Keith Cranney, Brian Allinson and Ernie Brown also expressed support for the Winterbourne Road route, but also suggested an alternative “fallback” option involving the construction of lay-bys at or in the vicinity of the current bus stops along Hatchet Road. This would eliminate the hold-ups caused by buses waiting at the stops, which they claim, is the principal cause of congestion in the area, thereby obviating the need to widen the road.
In view of the number of objections and alternative suggestion expressed in the consultation, SGC commissioned a report to assess eight alternative options for the contentious section of the route – four along Hatchet Road and four along Winterbourne Road. This shows that option 3 (Hatchet Road with laybys only) would be £1.27m cheaper than optional 1 (the original proposal with a bus lane on Hatchet Road) and provide slightly shorter journey times, however, the authors state that it would “be subject to variable journey times when conditions vary from normal as there are no bus lanes provided”. All options via Winterbourne Road would be more expensive and add considerably to journey times.
The report was published, along with officer responses to the consultation feedback, a week in advance of a meeting of SGC’s Planning, Transport & Strategic Environment (PTSE) Committee on 4th May, at which a decision was due to be made. The officer recommendation was that the consulted scheme along Hatchet Road would, on balance, the most be the most appropriate route.
At the PTSE meeting, the three Stoke Gifford councillors (who are not members of the committee) and a number of Stoke Gifford residents spoke during the public session against the Hatchet Road bus lane proposal, with Cllr Allinson recommending consideration of option 3. However, following discussion, the first proposal to come from the committee members was from Cllr Pat Hockey, who wanted to see an implementation of option 7 “in two phases”. This would involve converting one general traffic lane (in each direction) of existing dual carriageway sections of Winterbourne Road to bus lanes, followed by a later widening of single carriageway sections to create continuous bus lanes.
At this point, councillors on the committee were given legal advice to the effect that they should not resolve to select an option for which funding is not secured or whose characteristics differ significantly from those presented when securing the existing indicative funding, leading to a decision to defer the item pending further officer investigation.
The Journal understands that the matter is likely to come back to committee in early July, this time to the Environment and Community Services Committee, which is absorbing the responsibilities of the PTSE Committee as a result of a cost-saving reorganisation of SGC’s committee structure.
Image: Indicative artist’s impression of proposals on Hatchet Road (looking north).
More info: CPME public consultation webpage (SGC)
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
UPDATE: Statement published on the SGC website on 16th June
The Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) item was debated at South Gloucestershire Council’s Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment Committee meeting on 4th May 2016. The item was deferred to a subsequent committee meeting for further consideration of the implications of each of the options for the CPME.
The date for the subsequent meeting has now been confirmed and Councillors on the Environment & Community Services Committee (which has replaced the PTSE Committee) will be making a decision on the next steps for the CPME on Wednesday 6th July from 2pm. The meeting will be held in the Council Chamber in Kingswood Civic Centre, High Street, Kingswood BS15 9TR.
The report which will be considered at the meeting will be published here on the council’s website from Tuesday 28th June. It will include officer recommendations regarding how the CPME should proceed which will be considered by councillors.
Any resident in South Gloucestershire, or person affected by decisions to be taken by the Council, may address the Committee (for no more than 5 minutes). No prior notice is required but it would helpful if anyone wishing to speak contacts our Democratic Services Team by noon on the day before the meeting. For further information about speaking at the meeting, or making a written submission, please contact Paul Johnson, Democratic Services, on 01454 864425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org