Two reports setting out options on how to improve transport and tackle congestion in Bath are to be presented to Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet in May.
It is widely accepted that the increasing congestion needs to be tackled and that a long term strategy and a range of solutions are needed to cope with the volumes of traffic and the expected increase in vehicles as the local economy continues to grow.
At November’s full Council meeting, councillors asked the Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel to hold an open and transparent public scrutiny; examining a wide range of integrated transport solutions for the east of Bath.
This was an opportunity for the public, alongside transport experts to work together identifying wider integrated transport solutions for the City.
Alongside this, the cross-party Local Development Framework (LDF) Steering Group was tasked to review all the options for the location of an east of Bath Park & Ride; considering the feasibility/deliverability, associated costs, transport benefits and visual impact of each site option.
Both reports will be presented to the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday 4th May, although a decision will be made at a future meeting to allow Cabinet members time to consider both reports.
Councillor John Bull (Labour, Paulton), Chair of the Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel, said: “The Scrutiny Inquiry Day held in March has proved effective in helping the Panel to put forward its recommendations.
“These include investigating a possible link road between the A46 and A36, and supporting moves to increase the use of the Lansdown Park & Ride, including improved publicity and signage, together with a smaller site or sites east of Bath to provide sufficient spaces for current and future need, recognising the concerns of the population around the Meadows proposals.
“The panel noted the need for an integrated transport policy rather than a one solution approach.”
Councillor Liz Richardson (Conservative, Chew Valley North), Chair of the Local Development Framework (LDF) Steering Group, said: “The LDF Steering Group undertook a thorough examination of all of the evidence; including visiting multiple sites and identifying additional options for Cabinet to consider.
“It also identified generic improvements such as better signage to the existing Park and Ride sites; better links to the river/canal, rail, walking and cycling corridors; and a bus lane from the A46 Batheaston bypass into the City.
“The conclusions of the analysis undertaken by the Steering Group are that there are two sites which can effectively cater for a large park and ride facility of up to 1,500 spaces and which would capture traffic coming into Bath from both the A4 and A46; these are sites B and F.
“In addition, smaller sites have also been identified on the A4 Box Road which could cater for traffic coming into Bath on the A4 from Wiltshire.
“However, due to their distance from the A46 these sites would likely need to be combined with a future extension to the Lansdown Park and Ride in order to meet demand from traffic coming down the A46 from the M4.
“There are a number of other issues which the Cabinet will need to consider in reaching a decision, including the overall deliverability of each site option, and the LDF Steering Group recognises that there are pros and cons to each site which will need to be balanced when a final decision is made.”
Councillor Anthony Clarke (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “I would personally like to thank all the public who put a huge amount of energy into setting out their views and everybody that worked collaboratively with the panel on the Scrutiny Inquiry day.
“I would also like to thank the cross-party group of Councillors who worked extremely hard to look at potential Park and Ride sites.
“We are committed to improving transport, tackling congestion and supporting our local economy. Therefore we thank both panels for their hard work and we welcome their reports which the Cabinet will consider carefully.”
Bath MP Ben Howlett said: “The Council and I were elected last year on a mandate to seek solutions to Bath’s chronic congestion and air pollution levels.
“With regards to the impending Park & Ride decision my belief remains, given the recent consultation, that the best transport solution for Bath remains site B and I have yet to see any evidence to the contrary.
“My preference for site B is based on the:
- ability to develop it into a park and rail facility in the long term given a potential turnback facility at Bathampton Junction;
- the traffic flow modelling suggesting that circa 1000 spaces are needed here, therefore it would service a far greater need than the new option of 600 spaces;
- commercial viability of running a bus service.
“I have always said that developing The Meadows, site F, would not be a suitable for a park and ride.
“I understand the Council has been looking at many alternative options and have their own criteria to consider.
“The decision is clearly a Council one, but I retain the hope they will ensure a decision is finally taken to enable the long awaited Park & Ride to the East of Bath to be built, and that they choose the option that makes the best transport sense for all of Bath.”