Major changes could soon hit Bath drivers as the council’s latest plans for more traffic calming measures will hit several key city centre roads.
The corner where George Street meets Gay Street and the route along Sydney Road to avoid the Bathwick Street junction are among the roads which could be overhauled with new measures to block drivers and reduce traffic.
Liveable neighbourhoods, also called low-traffic neighbourhoods or LTNs for short, are a flagship policy of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Liberal Democrat administration.
There are three liveable neighbourhoods currently in place in the district as part of an 18-month trial, at the end of which they will be either removed or made permanent.
In September, a top councillor said they were looking at bringing in another five traffic restrictions on a trial basis by spring 2024.
Now the schemes are set to be scrutinised as a report goes before the council’s climate emergency and sustainability scrutiny panel on Thursday 11th January.
The schemes were chosen because of their ability to tackle traffic and strong community support, the report said.
The council has written to the communities affected with more information about the schemes.
The decision to implement the trial traffic restrictions will be made as a single member decisions by council cabinet member for highways Manda Rigby and cabinet member for council priorities and delivery David Wood.
Ms Rigby said: “A key priority for the council is to increase travel choices whilst making communities safer and healthier places, and our liveable neighbourhoods programme is helping to achieve this.
“The report sets out very clearly what we have achieved to date, including the extensive co-design work undertaken with residents, the decisions which have been taken and our future plans.”
The five proposed new measures which could be launched as trials in Bath are:
Under the plans, the upper end of Gay Street, between the junction with George Street and the Circus will become only accessible from the Circus.
There will be no entry for northbound traffic heading up the road, but the road will remain two-way, with space for vehicles heading down the road from the Circus to turn around. There will also be a left-turn only onto George Street.
The council would brief emergency vehicles that they should access the road from the Circus.
The new measures would not block cyclists, and a new cycle lane would be installed for cyclists turning into the upper section of Gay Street from George Street. An “informal crossing” will also be installed on Gay Street.
The traffic calming measure is one of three which would form the “Lower Lansdown and the Circus Area Liveable Neighbourhood.”
Another measure proposed in the planned liveable neighbourhood is to install collapsible bollards on Catherine Place between Margaret’s Buildings and River Street Mews.
This is planned as a modal filter to block motor vehicles but not pedestrians, bikes, and mobility aids. Council plans state that emergency vehicles would be able to collapse the bollards if required.
The third measure proposed in the liveable neighbourhood is to prevent through traffic using a section of Winifred’s lane. Two sets of collapsible bollards would be installed at each end of the steep section of the hill, which is already a one-way road.
One set of the bollards would be installed south of the junction with Somerset Lane at the top of the steep road, with another at the bottom just above the entrance to Holywell House.
On the other side of the city centre, the “New Sydney Place and Sydney Road Liveable Neighbourhood” aims to prevent people from using Sydney Road as a rat run to dodge the Bathwick Street junction on the A36.
A traffic restriction, which could be another set of collapsible bollards, would be installed at the junction between Sydney Road and Sydney Place, preventing motor vehicles from travelling this way around Sydney Gardens but allowing pedestrians, bikes, and mobility aids through. Turning circles would be provided on each side of the traffic restriction.
The dedicated left turn lane into Sydney Lane from Warminster Road would also be removed.
In order to reduce congestion on the residential roads around Newbridge School, three roads could be made one way to create a loop as the “Lyme Road and Charmouth Road Liveable Neighbourhood”.
Charmouth Road would be made one-way up to the junction with Lyme Street, with Lyme Street and Lyme Gardens also made one-way to keep traffic moving in a loop back on to Newbridge Road.
The short sections of Charmouth Road and Lyme Gardens north of Lyme Road would remain two-way for access.
The roads will remain two-way for cyclists, with short sections of cycle lane to support them and signage to warn drivers they may be there. Five parking spaces would be removed to improve visibility.
Ms Rigby added: “Looking to the future we will continue to work with councillors and communities in each of the liveable neighbourhood areas to further understand local priorities and issues, and which interventions would address these based on their affordability, feasibility and benefit in line with West of England Combined Authority funding criteria.”
The council’s wider plan for more liveable neighbourhoods is budgeted to cost £7.2m, of which £2.5m will be put up by the council and £4.7m will come from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) if the council’s business case is successful.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last year said he would review councils’ low traffic neighbourhoods, as he stated: “I’m slamming the brakes on the war on motorists.”
But WECA head of capital delivery Malcolm Parsons has said the combined authority will “crack on” with ones currently planned in the region as the Prime Minister’s review only affected future funding and not that which the combined authority has already been given to fund council’s schemes.
John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporter