A dispute over South Gloucestershire Council’s plans to rip up mature hedgerows and scores of mature trees in order to install a new bus lane along one side of Hatchet Road looks set to escalate after Stoke Gifford Parish Council (SGPC) called a public meeting to discuss “significant negativity from local residents”.
The bus lane will form part of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) scheme, a proposed extension to the wider MetroBus network that is currently under construction in the Bristol North Fringe. The CPME will link Bristol Parkway Station with The Mall at Cribbs Causeway and serve the new developments planned for the former Filton Airfield site.
In addition to the construction of a number of sections of new bus lane along its route, the CPME scheme also includes replacing the railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane with a much wider concrete structure capable of accommodating one general traffic lane and a bus lane in each direction.
The decision to construct a new southbound bus lane along Hatchet Road was agreed by an SGC committee in July, despite strong opposition from local residents and Stoke Gifford’s three South Glos councillors.
With SGC’s own figures showing that the new bus lane will reduce bus journey times by just 29 seconds, and only during the morning peak, with no improvement at other times of the day, the £1.47 million cost of installing it was described by Cllr Ernie Brown, chair of Stoke Gifford Parish Council, as “economic suicide”.
Above: Indicative artist’s impression of proposals on Hatchet Road (looking north).
More recently, Cllr Brown told The Journal:
“The proposed MetroBus Extension along Hatchet Road does not connect with the main MetroBus route, it is no more than a shuttle service between Parkway Station and The Mall and does not warrant the huge expense and traffic chaos the construction will cause in the heart of our community.”
Land for the widening of Hatchet Road would need to be taken from both Meade Park (to the east) and Forty Acres / Royal Park (to the west), and although both these areas are owned by SGC, they are leased to SGPC on 50 year leases with five-yearly break clauses. The Journal understands that SGPC has informed SGC that it will resist any attempt to change the boundaries of the two areas of land that it leases, which could mean that no work can be carried out by SGC before June 2019 or January 2021 (the ‘next break’ dates for Forty Acres and Meade Park respectively).
In response to a query from the Journal asking why a public meeting had been called when the decision to progress the Hatchet Lane bus lane has already been made by SGC, the parish clerk said:
“Following the decision by SGC, the parish council has discussed the MetroBus Extension on a number of occasions and feels that alternative options should be explored. The preferred option is to do nothing to Hatchet Road until the Stoke Gifford By-pass is completed.”
“The public meeting has been arranged as the parish council is aware of a significant amount of negativity from local residents towards not only the MetroBus Extension, but the MetroBus project in general across the wider local community. The parish council are also acting in the best interest to protect the wonderful parks and open spaces maintained within the parish, and subsequently do not support the removal of the affected hedges.”
Cllr Brown has requested that SGC officers attend the public meeting, but an SGC spokesperson could not confirm that they will, saying only:
“We are seeking clarification on what the purpose of the meeting is, given that the decision to progress a southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road has already been made.”
Although a planning application is expected to be made for the replacement Gipsy Patch Lane railway bridge, no planning permission is required for the works on Hatchet Road as they can be carried out under existing ‘highway permitted development’ rights.
Construction of the CPME scheme is currently expected to commence in 2018, with the replacement Gipsy Patch Road railway bridge being installed over Easter 2019. MetroBus services would start operating on the route later in 2019.
The public meeting arranged by Stoke Gifford Parish Council takes place on Tuesday 22nd November at St Michael’s Primary School, Ratcliffe Drive, Stoke Gifford BS34 8SG.
Above: MetroBus network in north Bristol.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 18 & 19). The magazine is 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.
Postscript (19/11/16): Agenda for the public meeting.