Bristol to Nailsea - Two years on the 'Festival Way' is taking shape
Posted: 18th December 2009 | Source: Sustrans
It is two years since the UK's leading and Bristol-based sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, won a TV vote to bring money from the Big Lottery Fund to 79 local communities via its Connect 2 schemes. Since then, one of those schemes - the proposed route running from Bristol City Centre, through Long Ashton and Flax Bourton to Nailsea - also called The Festival Way - has been quietly building momentum and achieving key goals in order for this safer and greener route into North Somerset to become a reality.
Headway has been made in overcoming a major gap in the public footpath network in these areas so residents can do everyday journeys by foot or bike. Although a lot of behind the scenes processes are difficult to visualise, much of the groundwork already in place has involved land negotiations, agreements between authorities, planning permissions, traffic orders, and of course it has been important to ensure community engagement at each stage so the route can give the best and most wanted options to the people who will benefit from it.
In Bristol - Hotwells
A recent meeting in December held at Hotwells School brought some positive results for the next stage of development - with new people wanting to join the steering group and help guide the scheme. A Hotwells and Clifton sub-group has been set up and is made up of local residents. Its role will be to establish the best options for routes in this area, ensuring safer ways for people travelling to school or work throughout the day over this difficult system of roads.
A key change in the Cumberland Basin section of the scheme has been to shift focus from the Brunel Swivel Bridge with the steering sub-group now reviewing ways for the route to cross the floating harbour. This was necessary due to the escalating costs of restoring the Brunel structure and the section being developed here is a particularly challenging one. However, construction has begun on a part of the route that will join the Create Centre with Bower Ashton and Ashton Court. This route will make the seemingly impenetrable Brunel Way Gyratory much easier to tackle on foot or by bike and will make Ashton Court and the UWE campus far easier to access. This should be finished in Spring of next year. Work will also commence on an improved link through to the former Megabowl site in January.
Bristol City Council is working on providing a route from a new traffic signal crossing of Clanage Road to the gates of Ashton Court on Kennel Lodge Road. Consultation for the crossing and a speed limit review has been completed thus changing the limit from 40mph to 30mph along Clanage Road, Winterstoke Road, Winterstoke Underpass, Ashton Road and Ashton Gate Underpass. This is expected in late April. The public are currently being consulted on the next phase of the route across Ashton Court Estate itself. This will run until the end of January 2010. This would link to Ashton Road and on into Long Ashton. An option is also being considered to expand a link to the Park & Ride and David Lloyd Fitness Centre but this is in very early stages of development. Other parts of the route in Long Ashton are taking shape and at the advanced design stage.
On the Long Ashton section of the route, Sustrans is currently negotiating with landowners to acquire land to provide a direct off-road route between Ashton Court and Long Ashton. This will incorporate a safe crossing at Yanley Lane and already includes a link that was built one year ago through Paulman Gardens.
An off road route is being developed adjacent to Weston Road which would link up to the double roundabout at Cambridge Batch and provide a seamless route through to Flax Bourton.
In Flax Bourton, the route will run through a greenway which was built two years ago but this greenway will be upgraded by June 2010 with a sealed surface.
As the route then heads up to Nailsea, the Nailsea Town Council want to ensure that the Golden Valley Bridleway is improved which is something the local community feel strongly about and support. Sustrans is hoping that over the next few months, issues with this section can be resolved so that this vital part of the route can really start to benefit the people of Nailsea.
Adrian Roper, Sustrans Regional Director for the South West said,
"This route is making great progress in linking these neighbourhoods so that local people can enjoy their everyday journeys more and find it easier to access their shops, schools and leisure facilities whilst leaving their cars at home. We have continued to get great support from the local communities along the route and we want to extend our work with them so the best possible scheme is delivered. It may seem that progress has been slow to date but this is the nature of such a complex and large scale project - planning permissions and agreements need to be in place and traffic regulation orders have to be processed. However, many of these processes for this huge route are in place and it will not be long before we can visually see this greener and safer route take shape across North Somerset."
Jon Usher, Senior Project Officer, Bristol City Council said,
"A substantial amount of work has gone into progressing the Connect2 scheme over the last 12 months, and hopefully people's patience will be rewarded once they get to walk or cycle on the new routes being built now and in January."
Jonathan Gall, Cycling Officer, North Somerset Council, said,
"We have already seen a 17% increase in use of the Flax Bourton Greenway in the past 12 months. We are confident that even more people will reduce their car use in favour of walking or cycling as we see the route develop over the next couple of years."