South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) is relying on a massive increase in public transport patronage in order to save the North Fringe of Bristol from gridlock, it emerged at a public inquiry this week.
The Council is proposing to allow the building of around 12,000 new homes in the North Fringe area over the next 15 years, with around 8,000 in the Cribbs Causeway/Patchway area and around 4,000 in Stoke Gifford.
The plans are contained in SGC’s Core Strategy document that is currently undergoing examination by a Government-appointed inspector at a public inquiry in Kingswood.
An independent study submitted to the inquiry concludes that the additional travel demand generated by the new developments can “reasonably be accommodated by the transport network without adversely impacting on the local economy, the environment, road safety and quality of life”, provided that:
- The new neighbourhoods are planned and designed with an appropriate balance of housing, shops, services and employment to minimise the need for travel by car.
- Measures are taken to encourage and maximise opportunities for walking, cycling and public transport use to, from and within the North Fringe.
In reaching its conclusions, the study draws on modelling results that predict an increase of 18% (by 2031) in the total number of “trips” made during a typical 12-hour weekday period. However, the authors claim that the number of car trips will increase by only 10% over the same period, due to the number of trips made by public transport increasing by a massive 125% and walking/cycling trips going up by 20%.
A number of people speaking at the inquiry doubted whether the assumed “modal switch” to public transport was realistic, with Jill Kempshall for the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England telling the Council’s transport expert that he was “expecting a miracle”.
Cllr Adam Monk (Labour, Filton), who works as a recruitment consultant, pointed out that the average employee in the UK travels for 45 minutes a day to get to work, adding:
“To say we’ll build houses and people will then walk to work is simply not credible.”
The proposed North Fringe to Hengrove Package bus rapid transport (BRT) scheme, which will link Cribbs Causeway with Bristol city centre, via Bradley Stoke, is seen as a key factor in increasing the patronage of public transport in the area.
The Core Strategy also includes outline plans for an extension to the BRT scheme, which would allow it to loop back from Cribbs Causeway, through the proposed developments on Filton Airfield and then along Gipsy Patch Lane and Hatchet Road to connect with Parkway station.
The transport study identifies the railway bridge on Gipsy Patch lane as a traffic bottleneck and says it will be necessary to improve the management of traffic on the approaches to the bridge. This will include the provision of bus priority and a new crossing under the railway for pedestrians and cyclists.
The strategic road network in the area is also predicted to come under increased pressure as a result of the new developments and the Highways Agency, in its submissions to the public inquiry, expresses concern about increased congestion at junctions 16 and 17 of the M5 and the Aztec West Roundabout on the A38. In response, the Council says it will implement mitigation measures that will include “widening of specific approaches to each junction”.
Andrew Roberts, representing the Highways Agency at the public inquiry, additionally identified junction 1 of the M32 as a potential problem area. The junction is “approaching stress … and doesn’t have a lot of capacity left”, he said.
In reply, an SGC officer said the Stoke Gifford By-Pass (officially known as the Stoke Gifford Transport Link), in addition to being a key component in achieving a modal shift from car to public transport (through the BRT), would also alleviate congestion at the motorway junction.
Current and planned non-housing developments in the North Fringe that could also have an impact on traffic congestion include: employment areas within the Charlton Hayes and Cribbs/Patchway New Neighbourhoods, the new Bristol Rovers Stadium at UWE, the new City of Bristol College Engineering Department and University Technical College in New Road, Stoke Gifford, the Filton Triangle Rail Depot and redevelopment of the Rolls-Royce East Works site in Filton.
REMINDER: There’s still time to have your say on the North Fringe to Hengrove BRT – the public consultation ends tomorrow (Friday 13th July 2012),
Related link: North Fringe Transport Review [PDF, 746kb]
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