Parking and transport top concerns for arena neighbours
Published on: 08 Jan 2016
Totterdown meeting hears calls for RPS to be fully funded
PARKING and transport worries are still top of the list of residents’ concerns about the proposed Bristol arena.
That much was clear at a consultation meeting held at Totterdown Baptist Church to discuss the newly-released planning applications for the
£95 million arena.
Bristol city council – which is both the developer of the project and the body which will decide whether to allow it to go ahead – has made some concessions to local concerns.
It has promised to consult residents on parking controls that will restrict arena-goers from parking in local streets. The new rules would be in place by time the arena opens in 2018.
But officials are refusing to budge on paying the running costs of the scheme.
Many residents, several councillors and the Bristol South MP, Karin Smyth, believe that as the parking restrictions have been made necessary by the arena, the council or the operator should pay for the permits.
“The arena is a benefit for the whole of Bristol and it’s grossly unfair [that residents should have to pay for a parking scheme], said one man.
Tom Cottrell, a Labour candidate for Knowle ward, said many people simply couldn’t afford to pay for parking permits.
“There are households within the 20-minute walk of the arena [where parking controls will be considered] where another bill coming through the door will be catastrophic,” he said.
“The money that you would otherwise have been spending on a car park should be going to the residents,” he added, to applause and cries of “Hear, hear”. But planning rules do not allow for the cost of permits to be paid by a developer, said Andrew Beard, from the council’s planning consultants, CSJ.
The council will pay to set up parking controls, but not the cost of running them, he said. A £5m fund has been earmarked for transport infrastructure.
Any parking controls would have to be active when the arena is open during the evenings.
Current resident parking schemes may have their hours amended – such as the one in Bedminster East, which extends to York Road and Bath bridge.
Residents within a 20-minute walk of Arena Island will be consulted on what form of controls they would like though no timescale is apparent.
The Environmental Impact Assessment suggests that new Residents Parking Schemes could cover Totterdown, Upper Knowle, Windmill Hill and the Dings.
It also suggests extensions to existing RPSs covering and Bedminster East, Easton, St Philips and Redcliffe.
What can be done to prevent road gridlock?
The impact of the arena on the congested roads of Totterdown and Knowle was the other main concern voiced by residents.
Chief among the issues is the worry that the Three Lamps junction and the roads leading to the city centre will become even more congested if traffic from Wells Road isn’t allowed to turn right into Bath Road.
Anne Silber of Tresa, the Totterdown community group, told the meeting: “Because of the changes the city council is making to the road layout, we have no other route to get out of the Wells Road area, because there is no right turn at Three Lamps, and we are forced to go into the city centre and come back again. You are channelling us into traffic that will be trying to get to the arena.”
Drivers will have to turn at Cattle Market Road or at Redcliffe roundabout.
In addition, the walking and cycling route from Three Lamps to the city “desperately needs improving,” she said – a point backed up by other residents.
The council has revealed a plan to widen the foot and cycle route from Three Lamps by digging into the Bath Road embankment to create a wide path leading to a bridge crossing the railway into the arena site.
Engineers are still working on plans to extend the cycle ramp down the steps onto the arena plaza so that cyclists can use it as a through route to the city.
However, any changes to the
Three Lamps junction look some way off. “There isn’t really a
strong case to make significant changes to Three Lamps on the back of the arena,” said Andrew Davies, senior transport planner.
The council believes that only seven per cent of traffic going to the arena will come through Three Lamps, so it does not merit an immediate change.
Mr Davies said the junction can be looked at in the New Year as part of the spatial framework for the Temple Meads enterprise zone – the long-term plan to provide 17,000 jobs in a creative and media hub surrounding the station and arena.
But Mr Davies warned the restricted site of Three Lamps, with a steep slope to the river on one side, gave little room for manoeuvre. “It’s very difficult, there’s no easy fix at Three Lamps,” he said.
Anne Silber said she doubted the council’s claim that so little arena traffic would pass Three Lamps. The arena will be popular with people in Somerset and Dorset, she predicted, and they would drive down Wells Road.
Other residents criticised the absence from the arena transport plan of any action on St Luke’s Road – a traffic blackspot.
One resident of St Luke’s Crescent, which backs on to St Luke’s Road, said: “This road is dangerous for cyclists and not great for drivers, and you are not going to do anything about it.”
Arena traffic “is going to affect St Luke’s Road,” he said, “why is that money [the £5m fund for infrastructure] not going to help?”
Mr Davies said attempts in 2014 to find a plan for St Luke’s Road had not found a solution that suited all the users – cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. The road is constrained by the narrow railway bridge.
Mr Beard of consultancy CSJ said no developer could be held responsible for mending existing problems.
“It’s not for the arena to solve every problem that’s not been solved in the last five years,” he said.
Extra traffic brought to the road by the arena is not expected to be significant, he said.