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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).


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.


 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.