Tipper trucks make hundreds of journeys through Bradley Stoke as housing site levelled

Photo of a tipper truck on Bradley Stoke Way.
A tipper truck laden with earth heads north up Bradley Stoke Way.

A fleet of tipper trucks is making hundreds of journeys a week through Bradley Stoke to remove 20,000 cubic metres of earth from a housing development area just south of the town, despite councillors being told that all excavated material would be reused ‘on site’.

The lorries are transporting earth from the Mulgrove Farm Village site, where 327 homes, a primary school and a nursery will eventually be built.

Part of the site was previously owned by Crest Nicholson but was sold to Wainhomes Severn Valley in a £38 million deal last year. South Gloucestershire Council also holds an interest in part of the land, in the area around the now-demolished Mulgrove Farm buildings.

Based on information supplied in relevant planning applications, the Journal estimates that around 3,000 vehicle movements will be required to complete the current earth removal operation.

Map showing location of Mulgrove Farm Village.
Map showing location of Mulgrove Farm Village.

Extensive earthworks

As the land on the Mulgrove Farm site consists of a domed-shaped hill, extensive earthworks are required to create a level plateau to enable development. These earthworks comprise levelling the site at its highest point and infilling areas on the lower slopes, a process which requires the excavation of 200,000 cubic metres of material.

When councillors approved a planning application for the development in November 2018, they were assured that all excavated material would be relocated on site, with “no requirement to import or export material“. However, by the time the applicant submitted a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) in October 2020, as part of a Discharge of Conditions planning application, evidence of a significant change in approach had emerged. The CEMP states:

Earthworks activities to reshape the site as set out on the approved planning drawings. This involves the movement of approximately 200,000m3 of material within the site and the removal of approximately 20,000m3 from the site.

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Curiously, the date on the submitted CEMP document is 11th June 2018, which suggests that it existed months before planning officers produced their report ahead of the November 2018 planning committee meeting.

An addendum to the CEMP submitted to the council in December 2020 states

“The main ‘muckaway’ operation will be undertaken from mid-Jan 2021 through to April 2021.”

Procession of trucks

The Journal understands that the earthworks are being carried out by Churngold Construction Limited, although it appears that the off-site transportation task has been sub-contracted to a number of other firms.

Loaded trucks emerge from the site onto Old Gloucester Road, at a point roughly 100m south of the Winterbourne Road junction. From here, the trucks head up to Great Stoke (Rabbit) Roundabout before turning right onto Bradley Stoke Way.

Photo of a tipper truck emerges onto Old Gloucester Road.
A tipper truck laden with earth emerges from the Mulgrove Farm Village housing development site onto Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook.

On most days, fully laden spoil lorries can be seen travelling north up Bradley Stoke Way at five to ten minute intervals. Empty lorries return southbound down Bradley Stoke Way at a similar rate.

Although most of the lorries have their loads covered, a significant number do not and there is evidence of load spillage at a number of points along Bradley Stoke Way.

Photo of an empty tipper truck heading down Bradley Stoke Way.
An empty tipper truck heads down Bradley Stoke Way on the return journey.

Road user feedback

Jon, a local cyclist, contacted the Journal to express a number of concerns about the mammoth operation:

“On my commute between Bradley Stoke and Downend on my bike I have been increasingly worried about the number of 20-tonne trucks arriving and taking topsoil from the new development on the Old Gloucester Road (towards Hambrook) via Rabbit Roundabout and up through Bradley Stoke Way. This starts from 7am in the morning until late afternoon, but it’s not one or two trucks it seems there is one every 5 to 10 minutes! The number seems to be increasing, and the red mud trailing from them can at times be seen around Rabbit Roundabout onto Bradley Stoke Way. My question is should they be using Bradley Stoke as a cut-through as it is a residential area? It seems dangerous having that number coming through the area.”

Photo of a pile of earth and rocks on the side of Bradley Stoke Way.
A pile of earth and rocks on the side of Bradley Stoke Way, believed to have fallen from a tipper truck.

With regard to the use of Bradley Stoke Way, the applicant’s CEMP document seems to concede that using the Stoke Gifford Transport Link (a.k.a. Stoke Gifford By-Pass) would be preferable, stating:

“Initially, access to the site will utilise the existing farm access off Old Gloucester Road. Once the permanent accesses [including a new arm onto the Parkway North Roundabout] are formed, Construction traffic would be routed via the Filton Road and the SGTL to avoid the use of more sensitive roads.”

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South Gloucestershire Council has been contacted for comment on some of the issues raised in this article. We will update the article once replies have been received.

Editor’s notes:

  1. The figure of 3,000 trips is calculated as follows: Earth weighing 1.5 tonnes per cubic metre carried in 20-tonne-capacity tipper trucks, resulting in 13.33 cubic metres carried per outbound trip. Transporting 20,000 cubic metres therefore requires 20,000 / 13.33 = 1,500 outbound trips, plus the same number of return trips.
  2. The total volume of earth to be excavated was given as 250,000 cubic metres in the planning officer report, which differs from the 200,000 cubic metres mentioned in the CEMP.

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