This is a joint statement issued on behalf of the Mayor and campaigners from the South Bristol Wrong Road group following a meeting on Thursday 5 December at City Hall:
The Mayor and his office, the Head of Strategic City Transport and South Bristol Wrong Road group representatives met on Thursday 5 December to discuss future proposals for transport infrastructure developments in and around Whitchurch. It was a constructive conversation about the timeline and decision-making process for any plans, as well as some more detailed points about the alternatives.
Mayor Marvin Rees opened the discussion by welcoming residents to City Hall. He acknowledged the community’s concerns about proposed transport developments on Whitchurch Lane, including:
- noise pollution
- the impact on Bridge Farm School and local businesses
- air quality
- the capacity of the local road network
- road safety
The Mayor also offered his view on the wider context that this conversation takes place in – a housing crisis with thousands of families on the BCC waiting list, the need to invest and transform Bristol’s transport network, and the recognition of a climate emergency.
The Mayor set out his desire to have an ongoing and constructive dialogue with the community, he offered to meet regularly with campaigners to keep the community informed about the evolution of different proposals. This was agreed to and a subsequent meeting will be arranged for the new year.
The Head of Strategic City Transport at Bristol City Council gave an overview of the decision-making processes involved in progressing new transport links in the Whitchurch area. It was explained that we are at the very earliest stages of working with neighbouring local authorities and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) to identify future transport infrastructure need. The authorities are undertaking a high-level discussion about range of possible options, and – given no feasibility studies have been conducted yet – any works are likely to be a decade away at the earliest.
He confirmed that no work is being undertaken to develop proposals at the moment. If funding is secured from the government, potentially as part of the HIF bid, it would be to progress further study and design work to examine the options available. It was stressed, that even if funding was agreed and the resulting work found options that are viable, there will be several decision-making processes in which the community will have opportunities to feed into public consultation.
Discussion then moved to the potential viability of a number of possible options that could meet the area’s changing transport needs, including tunnelling, routes to the south or a Metrobus-only road.
It was agreed that Bristol City Council, and partners, should have done a much better job of explaining the timeline of events to residents and local businesses as many were not aware that any plans are many years in the future. It was appreciated that BANES are the lead authority for much of this work and the conversation highlighted that that the Mayor of Bristol and Bristol City Council has only limited decision-making power over this regional, strategic infrastructure project. As a result, the Mayor and residents agreed to request further engagement from WECA and BANES.
We look forward to continuing to work together to develop positive dialogue about the future of sustainable transport infrastructure in the area.