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Highwood Road petition falls on deaf ears at South Glos Council

Posted on Friday 15th June 2012 at 12:52 pm by SH (Editor)

New bus-only lane on Highwood Road, Patchway, Bristol.

Planning officials at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) have recommended that a 4,137 signature petition to keep Highwood Road open to general traffic be ignored for at least five years.

In a 12-page report prepared for next week’s meeting of SGC’s Planning,Transport & Strategic Environment (PTSE) Committee, officers repeat their reasoning for closing the road and present three options for responding to the petition:

  1. Continue with the scheme as originally proposed, on a permanent basis.
  2. Implement the scheme as originally proposed for a five-year trial period.
  3. Open the proposed bus-only lane to general traffic, as demanded by the petitioners.

Summing up their analysis, officers say their preferred choice would be to continue with the scheme “in accordance with the approved planning permissions” (option 1) but they observe that this “would not respond positively to the concerns raised by the local community through the petition” and so recommend option 2, which will involve a revised Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to be advertised at a cost of £10k.

According to the report, implementing option 3 would cost the Council up to £1.25 million, broadly itemised as: the cost of implementing an alternative bus priority scheme for the North Fringe to Hengrove Package (NFHP) bus rapid transit scheme (£775k), cost implications relating to the Charlton Hayes and Highwood Road Linear Park planning permissions and S106 agreements (£232k) and the cost of reinstating Highwood Road to two-way general traffic (238k).

In arriving at the latter figure, the report points out that Birse, the contractor working on behalf of Bovis Homes, has already completed 90% of the physical works required to implement the currently agreed Highwood Road scheme.

Under new constitutional arrangements now in force at SGC, decisions on transport matters are now made by the 13-member PTSE Committee rather than a single Executive Councillor, as would have previously been the case.

Patchway District Councillor Sam Scott had previously said he would call for the PTSE Committee to defer its decision until after the petition has been discussed at SGC’s Full Council on 18th July, but principal petitioner Cllr Chris Mills, recently nominated Chair of Patchway Town Council, told a meeting of the Town Council on Tuesday that he has “agreed to have it discussed at the Committee meeting”, adding: “if we don’t get the answer we want, we can still take it to Full Council”.

With reference to the report published ahead of next week’s Committee meeting, Cllr Mills told The Journal:

“Having looked at the options the officer has put forward, any option that closes Highwood Road would appear to be a slap in the face to the residents of Patchway who have presented a petition of over 4100 signatures to keep Highwood Road open.”

“For an officer to present a option that states the NFHP will not be open until 2017, and a way forward is to have a experimental temporary TRO to close Highwood Road for five years and review it in 2017, the very year the NFHP is running, seems a complete and utter nonsense. The recommendation should be to keep Highwood open and review it in five years when the NFHP scheme is running, only then will you see if the two are compatible. Not to close Highwood Road, build the NFHP scheme, and then see if it’s the right thing to do.”

Explaining his decision to allow the PTSE Committee to consider the petition prior to the Full Council meeting, Cllr Mills explained:

”As a consequence of the size of the Highwood Road petition (4,137), we were given the option of deciding whether it was Full Council ot the PTSE Committee that would host the debate, and make the decision.”

“Under the new constitution, there is a provision that allows a decision that has just been made at a Committee to be made at Full Council. This is done through either a Lead Member, or a number of Councillors. As such, we feel that it would be benificial to give the Committee the chance to support the ward of Patchway.”

“If the Committee decides it is unable to support the ward of Patchway, we would ask that Members support the decision being made again in the next Full Council meeting.'”

Next week’s PTSE Committee meeting will also discuss the two formal objections raised against the traffic order required to implement the bus-only lane on Highwood Road. In a separate report, officers dismiss the objections on a number of grounds – including a claim that “the planning applications were subject to extensive public consultation over a number of years”.

More info: Agenda for the PTSE Committee Meeting on 20th June 2012

Related link: Highwood Road Linear Park (The Journal)

The Editor comments

The concept of converting this stretch of Highwood Road to a bus-only corridor goes back as far as 2002 but it took until November 2010 before a formal planning application was made to convert the road into a ‘linear park’.

SGC’s planning officers say that, over the years, “extensive public consultation” has been carried out “including a number of public exhibitions which were attended by the community and supported by Patchway Town Council”.

Noting that only two objections were received to the November 2010 planning application (one being from Mr Chris Mills), how is it that we now find ourselves in a situation where more than 4,000 people oppose a major component of the scheme?

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Bovis Homes and SGC failed to to effectively communicate the full details and implications of this project to the residents of Patchway and give them accessible and appropriate ways of providing feedback on it.

Even since planning permission was granted in February 2011, SGC has continued to show contempt for the people of Patchway, e.g. by beginning construction work before a second round of consultation on the traffic management measures had even started. And then when the consultation was complete, it took a Freedom of Information request to get the Council to reveal the results (which included 45 objections) – more than five months after the consultation had closed.

To add insult to injury, the Council has consistently failed to properly publicise road closures and diversions associated with the Highwood Road construction works, giving residents (and the Council’s own employees working at the Severnvale Hub) no advance warning of alterations.

Finally, presented with an overwhelming number of signatures calling for changes to the scheme, the Council tasks the very people who conceived the bus-only ‘linear-park’ concept, i.e. its own planning and transport departments, with authoring a response!

Demonstration against the impending closure of Highwood Road.

Photo: Protesters campaigning in March to keep Highwood Road open.

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Tags: Charlton Hayes, Highwood Road, roads

24 Responses to “Highwood Road petition falls on deaf ears at South Glos Council”

  1. diane winstone Says:

    I’ve being saying for a long time that this part of Patchway has been neglected and that our opinion does not matter. Following the decision to ignore our 4100 signed petition and close Highwood Road to all traffic I have been proved correct. Consiton Road is already a RAT RUN and a RACE TRACK. It can only get worse.

    Even the gentleman in charge of resurfacing of the top end of Coniston Road cannot understand why the Dual Carriageway is closing. He assured me that when it is closed Coniston will be gridlocked. The sigh post clearly points all traffic to Coniston Road what chance to we have. NONE

  2. Happy Says:

    @diane Winstone
    Highwood road is not going to be closed to all traffic only part of the road will be ,once all the other road are ready it should be lots better for the people of Patchway to get about.
    tell me why you think Coniston road will become a rat run !!!
    people that live in little stoke, filton and stoke gifford will either use the motorway or the new link road to get home they wont even have to touch Coniston road,the same goes for Bradly stoke .
    Can see why they would use Coniston road at all

  3. nursecrippin Says:

    I already know of at least 8 people who live in Bradley stoke and little stoke that have said they will be using Coniston road to get to the mall, and their friends will as well, so it is going tobe a rat run. But even with the petition we knew that the council was not going to budge on there decision, they dont care about the residents thats obvious

  4. HAPPY Says:

    @nursecrippin
    Then your so called friends are the problem or the cause of it for being selfish and lazy.And we new the council wouldnt change anything because they cant its not their land they sold it to Bovis a good few years ago .People new what was going to happen many years ago as they had meetings after meeting to talk about it all, so i ask why did it take till the last minute for these people to say no and get a petition going.!!!

  5. me Says:

    @happy

    You neer asked anyone!!!! i know many people living down that road and not one and i repeat one person was asked!!!!

    and also we are not selfish and lazy we are human being with a right to go witch way we want and if people dont like it then they will go down the bus lane since there is gonig to be no cameras watching it!!!!!

  6. SH (Editor) Says:

    According to SGC’s new constitution (para 46), a decision made by a committee can be “suspended” and referred to Full Council if “the committee chair … or six members of the committee meeting so indicate”.

  7. rebecca strong Says:

    It is only to be expected that Mouchel the design contractor for the bus lane acting as sub-contractor to the Highways Department of South Gloucestershire Council would recommend the use of the road only by buses or cyclists. What has the council to lose, £1.25 million. The full council will probably endorse the recommendations. The majority on the council are Conservatives or Liberals, what is Patchway, Labour, a minority. What can be done? We, the residents of Patchway and those who use Highwood Road can ask for a judicial review. We cannot rely on Patchway Town Council with their endless debates. We need to set up a fighting fund. If every person who signed our petition gave a small amount of money we would have enough money to instruct a lawyer, who could make a better case to a judge than South Glos for keeping the road open and perhaps getting our dual carriageway back. It might cause embarrassment to the council and Bovis, if the truth was bought out into the open. So what, they never listened to us in the first place. How many consultations were there, which they chose to ignore. There must be somebody in Patchway area who can advise us how to go about things.

  8. Chris Mills Says:

    If as we believe the council “Slap” over 4000 residents in the face on Wednesday and pick an option that closes Highwood Road then in my opinion we should seek a JR but how this can be done without costing the tax payers of Patchway I don’t know, but we have to find.

    Chris Mills

  9. Patchway Bloke Says:

    @nursecrippen Why would anyone from Bradley Stoke go around Coniston Road? It might be shorter in terms of miles, but it’s surely far more of a pain than using the A38 and then the new road past the airfield?

    As counter balance I know of people who live in Stoke Lodge who make regular journey to the Mall/Cribbs and say they will take the sensible option – as “speed bumps?”

    Patchway IS not being “cut in two” nor will Coniston Road suffer as badly as you all appear to think IMO. It smacks of people who don’t want to have to travel further to the Mall complaining, as opposed to some fanciful idea that Coniston will become a “rat run” as the driver behind all this.

  10. Patchway Bloke Says:

    As for people saying they were never “asked” – did they expect someone from Patchway Town Council of South Gloucestershire Council to knock on their door? I live in Patchway and I received plenty of correspondence in relation to the proposed changes, I also read (in the Patchway People for example) the open days that were held for people to air their views.

    Facts are most people in Patchway are apathetic. Might sign a form in the Post Office when buying some stamps, but realistically if people (including the Town Council) were that “up in arms” there would have been far more of a protest a LOT longer ago.

  11. Patchway Bloke Says:

    Also, 4000 “Residents” that’s over 25% of the adult population. Maybe they should all vote in Town Council elections in future, and have a better say in shaping their own futures?

    Far too little was done, too late too. (This isn’t losing Patchway Clinic either, something we might never get back if it were to close) – this is some unbased fear of additional traffic passing people’s homes. (In reality it’s about poor Patchway lambs having to go further to shop)……

    No sympathy here. I welcome the day the dual carriageway is closed for good.

  12. Dave Tiley Says:

    I have to disagree with some of the recent posts here. Are we just moaning about a traffic diversion, I really don’t think so. This decision is far from over, but if we are ignored then it confirms suspicions that unelected officers run the council, not the councillors, as made plain in the article really. I don’t know what planet some of them live on, not your average joe or josephine i feel. I am gutted at being perceived as coming at this too little too late, I understand that criticism but we came in to this old decision, which I am baffled by, but picked up residents recent anger, and it’s real anger, to be fair all people these days are apathetic until they realise something affects them, that’s modern life, but I will always be baffled how this got through after various consultations, sleepwalked into this, and my colleague Brian is right to point out ALL previous councils and councillors are responsible for this. I refuse to believe people will go around Patchway from the north roads and the stokes, they aren’t doing it now, and all inner Patchway roads, in particulr Coniston, Windermere, and Rodway, are suffering increased traffic on a large scale now, before Highwood is actually closed, the relief road is great but don’t close the road it relieves, particularly as thousands more people and twice as many cars are coming to live here and use these roads too, surely anyone can see the long term impact of this?

  13. Smiley Says:

    I totally agree with Patchway Bloke and Happy. I am very much for highwood road being closed. I live opposite highwood road and it doesn’t bother me that I will have to drive further to get to work, at least it stops people using my road as rat run!
    I moved to patchway in 2005 and was told the road would possibly be closed back then. I have also had many letters posted through my door inviting us to public consultations, they have kept us informed throughout the process.
    I work at Aztec west, I have no intention of going round coniston road, I would much rather use Hayes way. I also don’t see why going to the shops would be a problem, I would rather walk than drive to patchway shops. much better for the environment. I drove round coniston road the other day for the first time in months just to see what all the fuss is about and I feel there was no more traffic than usual.

  14. Chris Mills Says:

    #smilley (Charlie)
    As I replied to your last comment, our road will be shut and won’t be a rat run, i have lived here since 1988 and the only invite to a consultation I have received was to the town council meeting in 2010, when Bovis said they were going to put a gate at the end of our road and allow us to travel across Highwood into Charlton Hayes, but they changed there mind, didn’t want Patchway traffic going into CH.

    If it was the first time in months you drove around Coniston, how would you know what normal traffic was?

    Anyone living west of Sycamore will have to drive around Coniston and down Stroud Road to get access to Rodway Road Shops, the Hub or the community centre, not everyone can walk there.

    How many times in the last month have you driven down Highwood?

    Only time will tell, but if it does close we will all be driving the long way round!

  15. me Says:

    As i said before i know alot of people round coniston and most are elderly people that will be really effected by this is if they close that road and also want i want to know is if there spending all there money on this road and that then why are they not spending any money on cameras to guard it? because you know people when they learn this will just drive down it and there will be nothing the council will do to stop it because how will they know who goes down it without anything there to stop people gonig through it waste of money if you ask me

    The council will only take our opinions on board when somthing bad happens aka a car accident or somthing due to the increase of traffic on coniston road

    Sad that the council will not listen to the people who have lived there for year and years and have made patchway a great place and the people that have voted for them to get in power well i suppose thats the thanks you get now a days

  16. Steve Says:

    This whole thing strikes me more as “people want to use this bus/bike lane themselves” rather than a fear of rat runs.

    The purpose of the road is to make getting in and out the city by bus better, the cycling is an afterthought (as usual), but its better than it was -and way better than it is right now with impatient drivers trying to squeeze past you or hang right off your rear wheel.

    Hopefully the residents of patchway and the people who try to drive through it will now try to use the bus and discover that a car-free route is faster, and it avoids the problems of trying to work out where to park at your destination.

  17. Dave Tiley Says:

    Well,

    we believe the decision has been deferred and referred to full council in July. Whatever happens, it won’t please everyone, as we saw with Shellmor.

    In any decision you are lucky to please 75%, and maybe even 60%, yet we end up with Governments on that kind of basis. You can only please some of the people at any one time.

    Interesting to note support for closure from certain roads in particular, clearly it’s personally highly emotive about what goes up and down your road.

    However, one of the key reasons I feel this decision is now especially flawed is that it was taken before the Airfield closure became apparent, it’s highly likely to end up with thousands and thousands of houses on it, making Highwood and access here even more crucial to the local infrastructure, with that massive increase of traffic descending on Patchway then it really is about the bigger long term picture, and it will affect all residents in all roads as they seek to negotiate around Patchway and across North Bristol.

  18. SH (Editor) Says:

    South Gloucestershire Council today issued the following press release:

    Road closure decision referred to Council

    Proposals to transform one of South Gloucestershire’s busiest roads into a dedicated bus and cycle-only route have been referred to full Council for a decision at its next meeting in July.

    Members of the council’s Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment Committee, meeting on Wednesday, voted to introduce experimental traffic measures on Highwood Road in Patchway for an initial 18 months to allow evaluation of the scheme’s impact prior to permanent introduction.

    However the decision was suspended following a request that it be referred to full Council for a final decision.

    Highwood Road was formerly a major route to The Mall and Cribbs Causeway but traffic now uses the new bypass at Hayes Way, built as part of the neighbouring Charlton Hayes development.

    In order to link the new Charlton Hayes community with Patchway, while also reducing traffic congestion, Highwood Road is being converted into a unique ‘linear park’ with new green spaces and amenities. The introduction of the dedicated bus and cycle-only route forms an integral part of the overall plans.

    Planning, Transportation and Strategic Environment Committee spokesperson Cllr Pat Hockey said: “These plans were agreed in 2002 after several workshops and exhibitions. At that time local people appeared to welcome the opportunity to put an end to traffic heading for The Mall cutting through Patchway.

    “The general view was that the new development should be part of Patchway and not grow as a separate community. Shared facilities such as the library should bring the new and longer standing residents together. Instead of a busy intrusive road a pleasant open area is planned for people to enjoy. The closure of Highwood Road to general traffic is a key part of achieving this.

    “The council appreciates that local people now feel that these proposals will cause problems for them that far outweigh the benefits. For this reason the final decision has been referred for the full Council to make in July.”

    The proposed changes would see Highwood Road become a single-carriage dedicated bus and cycle route between Coniston Road and The Boulevard, with two-way traffic permitted between the Standing Stone roundabout and Coniston Road.

    ENDS

    The Editor writes:

    I understand that SGC officers made a last minute change to their recommendation to the PTSE Committee – that the trial period for the road closure be 18 months rather than five years.

    Look out for another article on this issue in The Journal next week – once I have found out more about what went on at the PTSE meeting and obtained comments from all parties.

  19. NeilB Says:

    The desire to close a busy road near to where you live is one we all share, I live as close to Bradley Stoke Way (probably the busiest road in Bradley Stoke) as any of the residents in Sycamore Drive and other streets do to Highwood road, so I am fully aware of the noise and pollution that is caused.

    The reality is that we all need these roads, whether for work or pleasure, and they are a necessary inconvenience to those that live near them.

    Hayes Way has done a lot to reduce the volume of traffic on Highwood Road so some benefit has already been gained by those most affected. To close Highwood Road would recreate, in Hayes Way, the long queues previously experienced in Highwood Road before Hayes Way was opened. This will be compounded by the growing number of vehicles that can be expected on the roads as the housing developments continue over the coming years.

    Whatever the final solution is for the area it cannot include losing a vital link road such as Highwood Road.

  20. Bert Hindle Says:

    I’m actually surprised the Mall haven’t kicked up a massive fuss about this. I’ve always tended to avoid shopping there because of the traffic problems on Highwood Rd. When Charlton Way first opened, the traffic between the Stokes and Cribbs definitely improved, but clearly that’s only going to revert to being as bad as it was once the Highwood road closes. Hayes Way will simply become the new Highwood Road – i.e as congested as ever.
    Maybe it will be OK – as long as they don’t build any new houses around there (and they stop cancelling bus services) it might be drivable.

  21. diane winstone Says:

    I’ve just heard on ‘Points West’ that South Glous Council are considering the expansion needs of Cribbs Causeway by a further 34,000 sq mtr of shops.

    I hope the closure of Highwood Road together with the expansion of Cribbs are taken into consideration at the July meeting of the full council.

    With this news it seems more crazy than ever to close Highwood Road, Not to mention false economy to close the road only to build another road.

  22. Dave Tiley Says:

    Excellent point Diane, SGC are all too aware of this as it is all part of their ‘core strategy’ to capitalise on the closure of the airfield with housing and retail, so yes, let’s hope the councillors realise just how much extra traffic we are in store for…crazy…

  23. HAPPY Says:

    Well we should all know one way or the other after the Council Meeting on the 20th July ,then they can open the road at Callicroft road/rodway road properly.Lets hope its to stay closed to normal traffic.

  24. Stella Says:

    Whoever planned the closure of Highwood Road, kept it all very quiet back in 2002, with little consultation and actual awareness raised. So of course, 10 years on when new people move to the area and the actual physical evidence of the road is clear to see, people are going to want to petition against the closure.

    Funny how their voices were completely ignored and the plans for the ‘investment-rich’ new development go ahead, and the old residents in the ‘Birds and Trees’ areas of Patchway are left to rot. Doesn’t matter that people have lived there for decades, all that matters is the rich powerful corporations who pay the council!

    The M5 junction near the Mall is going to be MAD over the Christmas period, as people from Bradley Stoke and other areas are going to use the motorway to avoid the long-winding routes of Coniston Road, or Hayes Way.

    Also, has anyone thought what it’s going to do to Sycamore Drive – one of the few through roads attached to Coniston?

    Ironic that the political parties blame each other, rather than think of a valid and useful alternative.

    The only bus I know that actually serves Highwood Road is the 73, so it’s going serve a bus that comes perhaps once every 30 mins?! Or will they divert all Wessex and the 75 buses from Coniston Road away from the local residents that need to use it? Bad enough, they’ve already bypassed Rodway Road, Cavendish, Pretoria Road…

    18-month trial? Sounds like they’ve made up their minds, and simply saying “Like it or lump it!”

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