‘MetroBus 2’: Councillors push for early formation of Gipsy Patch Lane works liaison group

Photo of the public meeting held at Little Stoke Community Hall.

Local councillors concerned about the impact of a two-year programme of work to replace the railway bridge on Gipsy Patch Lane have called for a residents’ liaison group to be set up as soon as January 2019, despite Network Rail having yet to appoint a contractor for the project.

A packed public meeting held in Little Stoke Community Hall on 19th November, attended by around 100 local residents, heard two officers from South Gloucestershire Council present an overview of the planned work, which they said would require an anticipated eight-month full closure of the road in the vicinity the bridge during 2020.

Wider works east and west of the bridge, to create new bus lanes for the Cribbs Patchway MetroBus Extension scheme (CPME), will require road closures in one direction only, or the use temporary traffic lights.

To minimise disruption, a site compound will be created on a parcel of land within the Horizon 38 development (former Rolls-Royce East Works site).

The replacement bridge will be pre-cast here and manoeuvred into position during a 12-day closure of the railway currently planned for Easter 2020. The bridge replacement and directly associated highway work is being undertaken by Network Rail (NR). The procurement process for a contractor is ongoing by Network Rail, with a contractor expected to be confirmed in early 2019. The other (highway) works, away from the bridge, will be done in-house by SGC’s Streetcare division, with possible sub-contracting of small elements.

Officers stated that while there is likely to be traffic disruption during 2019, the greatest disruption for road users is likely to be in 2020 and 2021. Vehicle diversion routes will be planned in advance and well signed and advertised. This will include “diverting as much through traffic as possible away from the area”.

It is anticipated that a shuttle bus will be provided to mitigate the impact on non-motorised users and it was stated that the possibility of providing a pedestrian and cycle link via the railway bridge linking Little Stoke Park with the Rolls-Royce site is being investigated.

Residents at the meeting expressed concern at the prospect of increased traffic along Little Stoke Lane, particularly in the vicinity of Little Stoke Primary School but also passing close to three other primary schools further up the road in Stoke Lodge.

Concerns were also expressed about the possibility of Rolls-Royce workers leaving their vehicles in residential streets within Little Stoke when there is no access through the bridge. Officers stated that SGC would consider introducing temporary parking restrictions to counter this. Ward councillors noted that an area-wide review of parking restrictions within Stoke Gifford parish is planned for 2019, with one stating that the outcome might involve residents having to pay for parking permits.

A condition of the planning permission already granted for the bridge and highway work on Gipsy Patch Lane is the formation of a stakeholder liaison group “to exchange relevant information (including proposed traffic management measures), to respond to local comments and to maintain good community relations”.

Residents interested in joining the liaison group were encouraged to attend the next full meeting of Stoke Gifford Parish Council in January.

Photo: Public meeting held at Little Stoke Community Hall on 19th November.

Annotated plan of the proposed works on Gipsy Patch Lane for the CPME scheme.

Above: Annotated plan of the proposed works on Gipsy Patch Lane.

Delays and cost pressures could still scupper project

While SGC’s officers are continuing to plan ahead for the Gipsy Patch Lane bridge replacement to take place at Easter 2020, there are two dark clouds on the horizon which throw doubt on the feasibility of achieving this timescale and might even jeopardise the whole CPME scheme.

The first relates to the fact that one of the four planning applications associated with the scheme, specifically the one for a new bus link between the southern edge of the Horizon 38 Site and North Way (near the NHS Blood centre), is yet to be granted consent due to an objection from the Environment Agency. The delay in obtaining planning permission for this element of the scheme is having a knock-on effect on the submission of a full business case to the West of England Combined Authority (Weca), which was most recently said to be due in “late 2018” but has now had to be put back to “February 2019”.

Secondly, as we were going to press, SGC revealed that Network Rail’s latest estimate for the bridge replacement is now “significantly higher” than when the current design option was selected in 2015, meaning that the revised cost for the overall CPME scheme is now “between £60m and £75m”, compared to the £35m funding tentatively approved by Weca.

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This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal news magazine (on pages 4 & 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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