Parking, roads, cycle paths, pavements: residents' arena priorities
Published on: 26 Sep 2015
“LET’S get real”, George Ferguson told BBC Radio Bristol as the arena consultation began: “This is a much bigger story than parking, this is the most brilliant thing happening in Bristol for many, many years.”
The Mayor has made his agenda clear: the council-owned arena is a much-needed attraction for Bristol which will put the city back on the entertainment map and create a new axis for the city centre, creating thousands of jobs.
Few disagree with the ambition; but many have questioned the execution of the plans and the ambitious timetable. The proposals include only a summary of the final Transport Plan, and no firm plan for residents’ parking.
Mr Ferguson admitted that both the timing of the arena and the budget may slip. He thinks the completion date may slip from 2017 to early 2018, and there may be some inflation in the £91 million budget.
Of more pressing concern are the worries about parking, which Mr Ferguson thinks are “scare- mongering” and “overblown”.
The recent Arcadia event in Queen Square attracted 14,000 people over two nights with no complaints about parking, he said.
Many residents told the Voice they are worried the streets of Totterdown and elsewhere will be badly affected by arena visitors looking to park.
“I can’t believe this is going ahead with totally inadequate parking – as usual they just don’t care,” said a reader on Facebook.
“There is not enough parking for people who live in the side streets now. So how are we going to cope with extra cars who don’t lived round here?” asked another resident of lower Totterdown.
Some think the mayor should drop his opposition to a new car park and provide spaces near the arena, as other cities do.
Sam Mongon, the Labour councillor for Windmill Hill, disagrees. He thinks there are enough spaces in the city centre, but congestion may be a problem.
“It’s assumed the [arena] congestion will not be at the same time as the commuting [traffic]”, said Cllr Mongon at a meeting of Tresa, the Totterdown community group. “This is a concern.”
At the Tresa meeting and elsewhere, residents voiced fears that on nights when the arena is full, there will be gridlock when visitors try to drive home – as there is around other city arenas such as Liverpool.
Many Tresa members felt that the area south of the arena is forgotten in the plans. The pavements and cycleways on Bath Road are “laughable”: “We know it needs improving already,” said one.
Suzanne Audrey, chair of Tresa, said she felt the council thinks widening the Bath Road for more cycle and pavement space is impossible because of the railway bridge.
Tresa members called for extra bridge space for cyclists and pedestrians to be canti-levered off the existing bridge.
This possibility was backed by Cllr Gary Hopkins, Bristol’s Lib-Dem leader and a councillor for Knowle. He also wants the council to widen the pavement and cycle lane on the embankment opposite Three Lamps.
He says almost all the respondents to a Lib-Dem petition called for changes to Three Lamps to allow a right turn from Wells Road to Bath Road.
But he fears this will not happen as part of the arena plan as it has not been properly examined. “They are putting in a planning application in a few weeks, without the details worked out,” he said.
Suzanne Audrey at Tresa is concerned that the needs of Totterdown residents have not yet been given proper attention.
“We need to make sure that our voice is heard really loudly, because we are living really close to the arena,” she said.
Deb Joffe, the Green councillor for Windmill Hill, believes the parking and transport issues are resolvable but thinks a residents parking scheme is inevitable.
She sees a problem wiith people congestion at the corner of Cattle Market Road and Bath Bridge – the mooted extra pedestrian walkway across to the island would help, she said.
She backed the Bath Road access as long as it has a pedestrian and cycle crossing.