A controversial programme of work to fell a row of 20 semi-mature trees along Gipsy Patch Lane, Little Stoke, to create space for a new bus lane, is due to get under way next Monday (25th January 2021).
The bus lane will form part of the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (CPME), which will facilitate the provision of an express bus service between Bristol Parkway Station and The Mall at Cribbs Causeway.
Construction of the route is currently projected to be completed by “early 2023”.
Plans approved in July 2018 show that the trees in question, on the Bush Avenue side of Gipsy Patch Lane (on the left in the image above), are being removed to allow the existing traffic lanes to be shifted south, thereby creating space for a new eastbound bus lane on the north side of the road.
‘Save the trees’ petition
Felling of the trees has been opposed by some local residents and a petition was started, urging South Gloucestershire Council to “find an alternative to felling the trees and hedges of Gipsy Patch Lane for the sake of a Metro Bus”. At the time of writing, the petition had attracted 322 signatures.
Shrubs and hedgerows will also need to be removed from the south side of Gipsy Patch Lane. No trees or vegetation are being removed from the north side.
A number of trees will also be removed from Gipsy Patch Lane to the west of the railway bridge at the Network Rail railway bridge compound site, to enable construction to start on a new MetroBus stop at this location.
South Gloucestershire Council has announced that the tree removal and de-vegetation work is due to start in the week commencing Monday 25th January and will last until approximately Friday 5th February, although it also says these dates could be subject to change.
A council spokesperson said:
“To enable the de-vegetation work to be carried out safely there will be temporary traffic lights in operation. These will be in use during off-peak times only. It may also be necessary to stop traffic during some of the work to create additional space so crews can operate safely. There may also need to be signed diversions for pedestrians during the work.”
“Please note, that currently there are ongoing ground investigations being carried out along the verge of Gipsy Patch Lane, which involve digging trial trenches.”
Landscaping and replanting
The CPME project has made a commitment to plant as many new trees and shrubs as possible to mitigate for these losses and the project team has been working on landscaping proposals for Gipsy Patch Lane for when construction work is complete.
Last year, a number of exploratory ‘trial trenches’ were dug along the verge of Gipsy Patch Lane to confirm the location of underground utilities, which is a factor which needs to be considered when deciding where any new planting can take place.
The information gathered from the trial trenches has helped inform draft landscaping proposals for Gipsy Patch Lane on the east side of the railway bridge. The council has new revealed that these plans include proposals to plant 24 new trees along Gipsy Patch Lane – 20 on the south side and 4 on the north side.
The tree planting proposals include:
- 19 new lime trees
- 2 mountain ash trees
- 3 native English oak trees in the new hedge line, to replace a mature ash tree removed in September 2020, due to ash dieback disease
The council has published a draft landscaping plan (see below), which includes the confidence levels for each proposed tree site based on investigations undertaken up to October 2020.
The landscaping plan also shows proposed sites for planting native hedges and ornamental shrubs, as well as areas for spring-flowering bulbs and herbaceous planting.
Note: Links to hi-res versions of the landscaping plan can be found at the end of this article.
A council spokesperson said:
“Due to the high number of underground utilities, continuing investigations are required and further trial trenches will be dug following de-vegetation to verify assumptions. The planting plans may need to be adjusted during the construction phase to take account of any unforeseen issues, which could impact on the numbers and locations of new trees and plants that can be planted.”
“We are currently in the process of developing our landscaping proposals for Gipsy Patch Lane on the west side of the bridge. We will share these with the community when they are available.”
In addition to the landscaping plans for Gipsy Patch Lane, the CPME project has already provided funding for 53 trees of various species to be planted at Winterbourne Road and Orpheus Avenue. As previously reported, these trees were planted in 2020.
Road closure latest
Gipsy Patch Lane is currently closed to all motor vehicles at the railway bridge, following the replacement of the bridge structure in November 2020.
The road is expected to remain closed until July 2021 while the carriageway under the bridge is lowered and a new surface drainage system is installed.
A route for pedestrians and dismounted cyclists to pass under the new railway bridge was opened on 10th December 2020 and it remains “open until further notice”.
More information and related links:
- Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension (SGC)
- MetroBus Extension Build (SGJ)
- Planning application for highway works: PT18/0987/R3F (SGC)
- Hi-res version of draft landscaping plan: PDF; JPEG
Update: Tree felling now under way
Added 25th January 2021.
A team of workers from South Gloucestershire Council arrived at the site shortly before 10am on Monday 25th January 2021 and began felling the trees. See the video below. Photos to follow.