Bristol Clean Air plan

April 20, 2018

From Bristol City Council webpage Air Pollution in Bristol

To protect people’s health, the European Union and the UK Government has set legal standards for a range of air pollutants.

The government has asked 27 cities, including Bristol, to take action on air pollution.

These cities have to investigate, report back on and put in place measures to reduce pollution in a short time. They need to take into account how much these measures would cost both the council and drivers who might be impacted.

The most effective way to do this is to charge the vehicles that cause most air pollution to enter the most polluted parts of the city.

The government has directed councils to:

  • look into all alternatives to charging people first
  • only resort to charging if nothing else would help the city stay within legal limits in the timescale they set

Bristol Clean Air Plan: Draft Strategic Outline Case

Bristol City Council Clean Air Plan: DRAFT Strategic Outline Case (pdf, 2.8MB) (opens new window)

DRAFT Strategic Outline Case Annex A (pdf, 83k) (opens new window)

DRAFT Strategic Outline Case Annex B (pdf, 68k) (opens new window)

DRAFT Strategic Outline Case Annex C – Timescales to Compliance (pdf, 1.3MB) (opens new window)

DRAFT Strategic Outline Case Annex D – Charging Assessment (pdf, 9.1MB) (opens new window)

DRAFT Strategic Outline Case Annex E – Logic Map (pdf, 374k) (opens new window)

Timetable

We’re currently putting together the feasibility study.

The Strategic Outline Case will go to cabinet on 6 March 2018. (pdf, 374k) (opens new window)

We’ll be talking to the public and main associates over spring and summer 2018.

We’ll open formal consultations on the proposals in October 2018.

Read more details on air pollution in Bristol (pdf, 364k) (opens new window) .

Public Spaces ebulletin

April 20, 2018

Please sign me up to receive this bulletin:  alan@morrises.fastmail.fm

BCS public spaces ebulletin April 2018

Current consultations

City Centre Framework: this is both a spatial framework and a movement framework.  This is in principle a good thing – making the connection between the two.  It covers a relatively small part of the city centre – Old City, Lewins Mead, Broadmead, bottom of M32, Castle Park, North Redcliffe.

The consultation page is here.  There is a Council event on Monday 16th April.   BCS will be commenting.  A BCS group will be meeting to discuss the response on Thursday 19th April – contact me if you are interested.

Bristol events

BCS Transport event. This Civic Society event will give an update on transport initiatives in Bristol. Tuesday 24th April at 6.30pm.  Details here.

 Walking Festival.  The annual Walking Festival will be throughout the month of May.  This year, the event is being organised by volunteers, without Council support.

Bristol Walking Alliance will be hiring the Vestibule, City Hall, just off Park Street, from Tuesday 1st May to Friday 4th May.  Pop in to see a variety of displays, meet others with an interest in walking and pick up a Bristol Walk Fest programme.  Exhibitors include: Active Ageing Bristol, Bristol Medical School, Bristol Walking Alliance, Legible City, Living Streets, Walking for Health and more.

BWA will be leading a walk entitled “The City Centre: Good for Walking?”  This is a study tour to ask if the city centre works well for walking.  We will rejoice in the places that are beautiful and function well, and ask why some places feel unpleasant, unsafe or unusable.

Date: Tuesday May 1st at 10.30am, repeated on Wednesday May 2nd at 6pm.

Start: Meet in the Vestibule, City Hall (Park Street side).

Booking: enquiries@bristolwalkingalliance.org.uk

Public spaces

The Bearpit.   Following media reports of anti-social behaviour, the Council is taking back control of the Bearpit, after seven years of partial control by a community group.  This looks to be the end for the Bristol Community Trust, and probably the end of my involvement in the Bearpit.  See here.

 CIL funding opportunities.  The 6 new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) area committees, which will decide how to allocate 15% of all CIL money, are about to get going, with initial meetings in May and guidelines about to be issued.  For more information, see a good summary here.  The Council’s information on the new process is here. Now is the time to submit proposals for funding.

The large amounts of CIL generated in the city centre will be shared with East Bristol. See here for some proposals being put forward in Easton and Lawrence Hill.

Tailors Court and St John’s churchyard – a Bristol Heritage Forum project group is forming to push for improvements to this neglected corner of Old City.  It is a candidate for CIL money and/or s106 developer contributions.  See news article.

Old City development: a significant new development of an area in Old City has just been announced, including Natwest Court and the Everards Printing Works building with its unique Art Nouveau façade.  This has the potential to bring public realm improvements to the area. See news article.

BT’s network of InLink kiosks: a new set of planning applications has been submitted for street advertising boards across central Bristol, which are also kiosks offering phone, Wi-Fi and other services.  BCS  will be commenting, and so will Bristol Walking Alliance.  Read more on the AdBlock website.  See blog article warning of how these kiosks might be used in future.

Advertising in parks.  The Council will pursue ‘low impact’ advertising in parks to raise funding for parks, despite the  public campaign against it.  See article here.

AdBlock: AdBlock’s campaign against public advertising is growing.  A new AdBlock group is mooted for Easton and Lawrence Hill, where there is a large number of billboards. A St Werburghs group has been campaigning for several years and has successfully removed 6 billboards in their area. There is also a new Bedminster group.

Tree strategy: The Council with other organisations is starting on a Tree Strategy for Bristol. See here.

Tree canopy cover: A Tree Forum blog tell us that canopy cover is 21% in one part of Bristol and 9% in another.  It’s a useful measure for setting targets.  See here.

Council

 New senior managers are being recruited.  The new organisation structure chart is shown here.  Note that the Mayor is in the top box, implying he is CEO.  Place Directorate becomes Growth & Regeneration, which includes Transport, Planning and “City Growth, Investment and Infrastructure”.   There has been an interim appointment of Colin Molton, who has “overall responsibility for functions relating to growth and regeneration, including Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, the new university campus and Bristol Arena.”

A corporate strategy has been published.  It has 4 themes. Two of the themes are Well Connected (which includes Transport), and Wellbeing (which includes streets and green spaces).  Read it here.

A One City Plan is being developed, which aims to consider interdependences and external factors.  The aim is to develop it collaboratively.  I attended a stakeholder event to give input on Transport issues.  I am concerned that despite its aim to consider interdependences, the  disconnect between public health and transport policy will persist.  More information (as at January 2018) is here.

Transport in Bristol

Where for the Arena ?  Following a petition, Full Council passed a motion that the Arena should be built next to Temple Meads because of its better access, not the site promoted by the developers of Filton airfield. The Mayor is still influenced by the cost aspects – see his blog here. The decision will be announced at the cabinet meeting on May 1st.  See news article for the arguments against Filton.

Brislington Greenway  A campaign has been started against a proposal to build a new road link from St Philips Causeway to Callington Road – the Callington Road link. It is in current plans, with the aim of relieving traffic pressure on the A4 Bath Road, so as to extend the bus lane.  The campaigners want to keep it for walking and cycling.  You may wish to sign their petition. See campaign website here and Bristol 24/7 article here.

20mph scheme review.  The Council is about to embark on a review of the 20mph scheme, asking residents and councillors whether any improvements are needed – see here.  A UWE review reported that average speeds have reduced as a result of the scheme, and lives have been saved – see news article.

Metrobus.  The service between Emersons Green and the city centre will start at the end of May – see here.  The Cribbs Causeway to Hengrove service will be operated by social enterprise Bristol Community Transport (BCT), and is reported to start in July.  No date has been set for the service from Long Ashton to the city centre.

Local planning policy

Local Plan Review and Urban Living SPD.  Consultations on these two documents are closing now.  A particular theme is ‘Urban Living’, which is a policy that prioritises housing growth in certain city areas, with denser development, primarily on brownfield sites.  BCS has submitted comments – see here.  BCS views on tall buildings and doing densification well are here.  BCS member Matthew Montagu-Pollock has started a campaign against the Mayor’s passion for tall buildings – see here.

 Joint Spatial Plan.  BCS supported the Sustainable Transport Network’s response to the consultation last December on the West of England plan for housing growth – see here.  Comments were submitted in a form suitable for the Planning Enquiry due in autumn 2018, which will review the Plan’s soundness.  The STN’s response complements the response by Business West – which was a very strong critique of the proposals – see here.

Joint Local Transport Plan.  JLTP4 is currently being prepared, and is scheduled for public consultation in autumn 2018 (postponed from June). STN proactively submitted some comments ahead of the public consultation, based on the Joint Transport Study that accompanied the Joint Spatial Plan – see here.

Bus Strategy. WECA has started work on a Bus Strategy, including a review of the route network, to be completed by the end of 2018, and to be included in JLTP4.

 Bristol Transport Plan.  I think this will consulted on in the autumn, because it was to be consulted on alongside the JLTP in June.

Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan. The Council has started work on this, with the help of consultancy work funded by the government.  Bristol Walking Alliance is represented on a stakeholder group, and has proactively submitted what it would like to see in the LCWIP – see here.

Western Harbour.  A plan to reconfigure the roads around Cumberland Basin, thus releasing land to build homes, is in adopted planning policy, but the Mayor made it more public last October, and included it in the investment opportunities he took to China.  It also features in the Local Plan review, but with little detail.

A community meeting was held on 9th April to find out more.  There is a potential maintenance bill £30m anyway for the 50-year old roads and bridges, so the Council is looking at changing the road alignment. There is much analysis yet to be done, and they are starting to examine the options.  These include building a bridge to one side of the existing of the Plimsoll Bridge, and then demolishing the Plimsoll Bridge – they haven’t decided which side, and it could include the alignment of the Junction Lock bridge. The bridge would be at a lower height level than the existing Plimsoll Bridge, with boats held up at peak motor traffic times. The scheme includes a review of the ramps south of the Cut,

Recent developments

Christmas Steps Arts Quarter.  Hamilton Caswell has produced a very interesting summary of developments covered by CSAQ in the last year.  See here

Housing developments. A recent Architecture Centre exhibition curated by UWE students showed an interesting collection of recent and current housing developments across Bristol. See here.

National and London planning policy

National Planning Policy Framework. The government is consulting on a review of the NPPF – see here. Consultants Lichfields have written an initial appraisal – see here.    Consultants Turley have written a series of articles on different aspects of the NPPF changes – see here.

London Plan.  A new Local Plan for London was consulted on recently – see here.  The Healthy Streets approach is embedded in it, and is also included in London’s draft Health Inequalities Strategy – a joined-up approach.  See Lucy Saunders’ presentation slides on Healthy Streets, from a talk at the Living Streets walking summit, which I attended – here..

Government 25 Year Environment Plan.  Michael Gove has tried to inject some environmental vision into the Conservative government, and this 25 year plan makes some bold statements, such as:  “We will …. ‘Green’ our towns and cities by creating green infrastructure and planting one million urban trees.”  (in Ch 3: Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing). See the Plan here,

It also promises a Clean Air Strategy in 2018, which is expected to cover air pollution from a wide-range of sources, and will sit alongside proposals to tackle roadside NO2 emissions published in 2017.  See article here.

Air quality

Joint parliamentary committee report.  This “Improving Air Quality” report called on the government to take a more holistic approach (eg considering carbon emissions alongside NO2/particulate pollution), and a more urgent approach to improving air quality.  See article here.

In the meantime, the government’s approach is compliance-led: do the minimum necessary to get NO2 emissions within EU limits.  It has been forced to do more by ClientEarth legal action which showed the government was not doing enough or not doing it quickly enough.  It has delegated the task to local authorities, most of whom also take a compliance-led approach.

This is about NOx pollution, not particulate pollution.  The medics seem more worried about particulate pollution. The medical research concludes that there is no safe level of air pollution.  WHO limits are lower than UK limits.

 Bristol Clean Air Plan.  The Cabinet on 6th March approved 5 options for a Bristol Clean Air Plan for further investigation until next September, when a preferred option will be chosen for even more detailed analysis.  The detail about this is contained in a Strategic Outline Case – see here (scroll down).

3.7 of the Strategic Outline Case describes the options.  4 options include a charging Clean Air Zone.  Only 2 of these options would include cars – one with a small zone and one a medium zone.  The other option is a package of 16 short-listed ‘other measures’ – see 3.7.2.  These measures are non-charging.  They include some access restrictions/prohibitions.  They tend to be targeted on certain types of vehicles, and certain pollution hotspot locations.

The Government has ruled out Euro 6 diesel cars from being included in a charging CAZ even though real-world tests show them to continue to be high-polluting.

Some measures have been ruled out because they cannot be delivered quickly enough for the government’s timetable to meet compliance – see Annex A of the SOC.  For instance, a cross-city charging Clean Air Zone, restricting traffic movements in city centre, a Workplace Parking Levy.

The initial assessment is that all 5 options meet the Government’s objective of getting below statutory air quality limits by 2021 (ie implementing the measures before 2021).  If that assessment continues to hold, the decision will be based on secondary factors.  A list of secondary factors has been set, and a weighted score is derived for each option – see 3.3.3.  The scores do not vary much between the options, and the decision appears finely balanced – see 7.1.1.  It seems to me that there is a risk that the non-charging-CAZ option will be adopted, because that is politically the easiest.  In which case air quality would continue to be a ‘below the surface’ issue.

The consultation will be as follows:

– February to September 2018: engagement with key audiences and stakeholders

– towards the end of 2018: formal consultation on the preferred proposal (ie after the options have been narrowed down to one preferred option in September).

Clean Air Zones in other cities: London already has a Clean Air Zone that charges cars entering the inner-city area.  There are 5 local authorities that are likely to declare their intentions before Bristol does, because they were on the first government list of cities required to take action.  So far Leeds and Birmingham are proposing zones that do not charge cars.  Derby is trying to avoid a charging Clean Air Zone of any sort.  From what I can tell, Nottingham and Southampton have yet to declare.

Bath is proposing a Clean Air Zone, which may or may not include cars.  Oxford  has the most radical approach: it is proposing a Zero Emission Zone in the city centre, ie banning diesel and petrol vehicles, starting with some vehicle types and a small number of streets in 2020, and moving to all vehicle types across the whole city centre in 2035.

A good critique of charging Clean Air Zones is here.  Their effect may be that people buy newer diesel cars, and find routes to circumvent the charging zone.  Which doesn’t address the real problem that there is too much motor traffic in city centres, and active travel needs to be encouraged.

Monitoring air quality outside schools. Bristol has introduced air quality sensors outside all schools.

Low-emission buses. Bristol is getting a grant for more low-emission buses. See here.  Electric buses would be better.

Government Clean Air Fund.  The government has made available a £220m Clean Air Fund to local authorities. Some of the money is for “other measures”, for instance bus priority measures, cycle routes, and traffic management systems. See here.

Research and thought pieces + wider afield

Shared space and better streets. The Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) has issued a report reviewing the shared space concept, and recommending  how it can be further improved and developed. See here.

Walkable London. Zaha Hadid Architects propose a full-scale network of pedestrian routes – see here.

Greater Manchester. Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s first Cycling and Walking Commissioner has called for a ring-fenced, 10 year, £1.5 billion infrastructure fund, starting with a short-term Active Streets Fund to kick-start delivery for walking and cycling.  See here.  Can you imagine the West of England Mayor going for that ?

 Public influence on healthy streets projects: Cycling infrastructure expert John Dales has written a blog that concludes that “…  when it comes to proposals to create better streets, a loud enough voice objecting to restrictions on car access and parking will typically carry the day; despite the policy context and despite what other people might say or have wished to say, given the opportunity.”  See here. That’s exactly what happened to Easton Safe Streets.

Bike safety consultation The government is asking for ideas to be submitted on improving bike safety.  A Guardian article says it “shows someone in government might understand cycling”.  See here.

The roads programme is a deplorable refusal to face the facts.  Article published by Bristol Health Partners, written by Dr Adrian Davis. See here.

Five key decisions facing the next generation of road pricing.  A report of a Sustrans Street Talk event on pay-per-mile road pricing.  See here,

The case for a Workplace Parking Levy. A Centre for Cities report. See here.

Characterising Neighbourhoods.  Local expert Richard Guise has co-authored a guide to the practical methods of appraising neighbourhoods. See here.

The Independent Review of Build Out: 9 March 2018

April 13, 2018

A review of the reasons why housebuilders are not building out their permissions is being carried out by The Rt Hon Sir Oliver Letwin MP.

“My terms of reference require me, by the time of the Budget in the Autumn, to “explain the significant gap between housing completions and the amount of land allocated or permissioned in areas of high housing demand, and make recommendations for closing it”.

There are some interesting findings already reported on in a preliminary update.  

“The fundamental driver of build out rates once detailed planning permission is granted for large sites appears to be the ‘absorption rate’ – the rate at which newly constructed homes can be sold into (or are believed by the house-builder to be able to be sold successfully into) the local market without materially disturbing the market price. The absorption rate of homes sold on the site appears, in turn, to be largely determined at present by the type of home being constructed (when ‘type’ includes size, design, context and tenure) and the pricing of the new homes built. The principal reason why house-builders are in a position to exercise control over these key drivers of sales rates appears to be that there are limited opportunities for rivals to enter large sites and compete for customers by offering different types of homes at different price-points and with different tenures……..”

“So further questions arise:

 would the absorption rate, and hence the build out rate be different if large sites were ‘packaged’ in ways that led to the presence on at least part of the site of:

o other types of house-builder offering different products in terms of size, pricepoint and tenure? Or

o the major house builders offering markedly differing types of homes and/or markedly different tenures themselves?

 would the absorption rate be different if the reliance on large sites to deliver local housing were reduced? And

 what are the implications of changing the absorption rate for the current business model of major house-builders if the gross development value of sites starts to deviate from the original assumptions that underpin the land purchase?”

Bristol Investment Plan December 2017

April 10, 2018

A brochure showing development opportunities in Bristol was produced for the Mayor’s visit to China in December 2017.

It shows some thinking which is also being brought forward in the Local Plan review for instance in Western Harbour.

read more

Locality support programme for Neighbourhood Plans

March 19, 2018

Today, March 19th 2018, it’s been announced that Locality will be extending its support for local groups to develop neighbourhood plans for another four years following the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) announcement of a new £23m programme.

The new neighbourhood planning programme will help thousands of local groups to create a neighbourhood plan or Neighbourhood Development Order. The 2018-22 programme will be different though, with changes to grant and support eligibility criteria.

The changes also mean that Locality have launched a new and enhanced neighbourhood planning website (neighbourhoodplanning.org), a new Twitter account and quarterly newsletter, independent of the My Community programme.

NPPF revised draft out for consultation

March 10, 2018

The National Planning Policy Framework is being revised and the draft is out for consultation until 11.45pm 10th May 2018.

 

CSAQ round up of local development

February 19, 2018

Christmas Steps Arts Quarter planning group have produced this excellent round up of developments in the Christmas Steps and City Centre area- a very useful summary!

read it here

Chief Planner’s Newsletter December 2017

February 10, 2018

A letter to England’s local authorities from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) chief planner states that the government intends to publish a draft revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) before Easter.

The NPPF is being revised to include planning reforms outlined in the housing white paper, which was published in February 2017; the Planning for the Right Homes in the Right Places consultation published in September 2017; and announcements in the Autumn Budget.

Steve Quartermain CBE wrote: “We will consult on both new policies from the Budget, and the text of the framework, to make sure the wording is clear, consistent and well understood. Our ambition is to publish a final revised framework in the summer.”

The letter also contains details on Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations. On 24 January, Parliament considered regulations that would amend Regulation 128A of the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations. Subject to Parliamentary approval, these will come into force in February.

The full letter can be found here on the MHCLG website (pdf).

From Planning Portal News 8 February 2018.

 

Low Carbon Neighbourhood Planning latest version from CSE

January 29, 2018

Read the Centre for Sustainable Energy’s latest version of their Low Carbon Neighbourhood Planning guidebook  here

Building for Life 12

January 17, 2018

Latest version of the Building for Life 12 document is now available here

Building for Life 12 is a government-endorsed industry standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods. Local communities, local authorities and developers are encouraged to use it to guide discussions about creating good places to live.

Building for Life 12 (BfL12) is led by three partners: Cabe at the Design Council, Design for Homes and the Home Builders Federation, supported by Nottingham Trent University.

It was redesigned in 2012 to reflect the National Planning Policy Framework’s commitment not only to build more homes, but better homes, such as can be achieved when local communities participate in the place-making process and help identify how development can be shaped to accommodate both new and existing communities. The questions are therefore designed to help structure discussions between local communities, local planning authorities, developers and other stakeholders.

BfL12 is also designed to help local planning authorities assess the quality of proposed and completed developments; it can be used for site-specific briefs and can also help to structure design codes and local design policies.