South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has reaffirmed its intention to construct a controversial £2 million bus lane down one side of Hatchet Road, despite appeals from local councillors to put the project on hold or consider replacing it with a cheaper scheme that would avoid the need to rip out mature hedgerows and scores of mature trees.
The new southbound bus lane, approved by SGC’s Environment & Community Services (ECS) Committee in July 2016, forms part of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME) scheme, which will link The Mall at Cribbs Causeway with Bristol Parkway Station and serve the new developments planned for the former Filton Airfield site.
With SGC’s own figures showing that the new bus lane will reduce bus journey times by just 29 seconds, and this only during the morning peak, with no improvement at other times of the day, the cost of installing it has been described by Cllr Ernie Brown, chair of Stoke Gifford Parish Council, as “economic suicide”.
Following a public meeting held last November, Stoke Gifford’s three district councillors, Ernie Brown, Brian Allinson and Keith Cranney, vowed to table a motion at the next meeting of SGC’s Full Council to “defer the decision made by the ECS Committee until the impact of the Stoke Gifford By-Pass is known”. However, no such motion was tabled at the subsequent Full Council meeting in February and the Journal understands that the councillors abandoned their plan to submit a motion when they realised it would fail due to a lack of support from their colleagues within the ruling Conservative group.
In a joint statement, the three Stoke Gifford councillors said:
“We have raised residents’ concerns with members of the ECS Committee on several occasions since the November 2016 public meeting in Stoke Gifford. In these discussions, it was made clear to us that the decision made by the committee in July 2016 will not be changed. This is despite the fact that the officer report presented to the July 2016 meeting showed that the alternative ‘option 3’ scheme, consisting of bus lay-bys without a bus lane, would cost less than the agreed ‘option 1’ bus lane scheme, and yet yield faster journey times for MetroBus vehicles.”
“The chair and deputy chair of the ECS Committee have confirmed to us that a bus lane will be added along the Meade Park side of Hatchet Road, irrespective of the impact that the opening of the new Stoke Gifford By-Pass has on local traffic flows.”
The Stoke Gifford By-Pass, known officially as the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (SGTL), is currently due to open in September 2017.
Above: Indicative artist’s impression of proposals on Hatchet Road (looking north).
Letter published by Stoke Gifford Parish Council on 20th February
Following a public meeting organised by the Parish Council on Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, South Gloucestershire Council has confirmed it will be continuing with a previously approved plan to introduce a southbound bus lane on Hatchet Road in Stoke Gifford.
The recent public meeting that was attended by nearly 200 residents strongly objected to proposals to introduce the bus lane in one direction through the heart of the village. These objections and concerns have been rejected by South Gloucestershire Council following numerous attempts by Stoke Gifford councillors to defer the decision on economical grounds. The works will continue to proceed as agreed at the ECS Committee in July 2016, and it is understood that the CPME scheme will commence during 2018 and be completed early in 2021. South Gloucestershire Council have also confirmed that they are currently in the process of firming up the overall CPME programme, which has lengthened from the original publicised timescales.
The parish council urges South Gloucestershire Council to reconsider its decision to introduce a bus lane in one direction along part of Hatchet Road, which includes the removal of mature trees and hedgerows at a cost of £2.2 million pounds to save an estimated 29 seconds, especially as the overall MetroBus scheme is already overspent.
A revised detailed design phase is yet to be viewed regarding the implementation of the new southbound bus lane, which may vary from the original specification. At the same time, it is understood that surveys are being conducted along the wider route regarding feasibility. However, the new bus lane will potentially impact on one or two parks under the current management of the parish council that are currently leased from South Gloucestershire Council, namely Meade Park and Forty Acres (which incorporates Royal Park) – located on either side of Hatchet Road, Stoke Gifford.
In order to provide updates to local residents, the parish council is now planning to hold a further public meeting at 7pm on Tuesday 7th March 2017, to be held at The Old School Rooms, St Michael’s Church, North Road, Stoke Gifford. The meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss any options moving forward, and to consider establishing a residents’ local action group to tackle this issue.
Statement by SGC in response to queries from the Journal
The decision made by the ECS Committee in July 2016 confirmed that the scheme which we had consulted on should be progressed.
We are continuing to carry out preparatory work across the CPME route, including undertaking surveys to inform the detailed design. As part of this work, a ground penetrating radar survey was recently carried out along Hatchet Road.
We are also in the early stages of producing a construction programme that sets out which parts of the CPME scheme will be built when. The overall project programme, available on the Travelwest website, shows that CPME construction is planned to start in 2018.
The CPME project is being funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership’s Economic Development Fund (EDF). The EDF funding allocation is £35m, and the Hatchet Road element is £2.02m.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 16 & 17). 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.