Moving the war memorial 'would destroy heart of Westbury village'
RESIDENTS and councillors have given Henleaze & Westbury Voice their views on the consultation to make changes to one of the busiest routes in our area.
Bristol City Council says the proposals for the A4018, which encompasses Wyck Beck Road, Passage Road, Falcondale Road and Westbury Road as it travels from Cribbs Causeway to the city centre, are designed to help keep traffic flowing and improve public transport reliability along one of the most important routes into central Bristol. The plans have come about as a result of the new housing developments that are planned on the former Filton Airfield, and the proposed improvements include adding inbound and outbound bus lanes, and creating junctions with traffic lights to support traffic flow.
The proposals are mainly focused south of the Crow Lane roundabout, however potential changes to the roundabout itself have also been included in the discussion. In addition, the council says they are accompanied by plans to improve the vitality of Westbury Village by removing the rat-running traffic that travels through the centre of the village on a daily basis, and there are also plans for ways to improve cycling along the route of the A4018 as well.
As part of the plans, the council held a consultation to find out the views of people living near the route, which ended on March 15. As part of this, community meetings were held at Westbury Village Hall on March 1 and on March 2, where residents had the chance to meet Geoff Gollop, Liz Radford and Steve Smith, Councillors for Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze, ask questions and receive an update on their campaign to challenge the proposals.
MP Darren Jones also held public meetings about the scheme.
Hilary Long, chairman of the Westbury-on-Trym Society (WOTSOC), says that although plans to install traffic lights and make improvements to pedestrian safety at the junctions of Westbury Road and Falcondale Road, and Passage Road and Greystoke Avenue are generally welcomed by residents, in addition to a proper pedestrian crossing at the junction of Shipley Road and Passage Road, there is widespread concern about the other areas of the proposal.
She said: “Worst is the idea that the War Memorial will be moved to another location, to one side of the village. This would be to destroy the heart of Westbury and a landscape so familiar to everyone, both locals and visitors.
“The plan to make Westbury Road and Hill the main entry to Westbury is seen as crazy: traffic along that route meets bottlenecks constantly where hold-ups already occur due to school traffic, parked coaches and confrontations between buses and cars on the hill itself.
“In general people would rather keep the traffic flowing along the High Street as well and be able to use Henbury Road as an access and egress at that end of Westbury.
“Clearly – we all agree on this – it has been designed by someone who has no notion whatsoever of the real and interdependent life of this area.”
Alan Aburrow, ex-chairman of the local Neighbourhood Partnership’s Transport Working Group, thinks the council needs to take feedback on board and revisit the plans. He said: “I attended many of the public meetings about the proposals and it was apparent there was a huge groundswell of opinion against many of the proposals.
“One unwelcome proposal was the introduction of traffic lights to replace the Crow Lane roundabout, together with the proposal to ban the outbound right turn into Knole Lane. The banned right turn would totally isolate a large swathe of Brentry from easy access and result in many vehicles making circuitous detours. Someone even suggested that the roundabout should be examined by non-council traffic consultants in order to redesign its size and layout to maximise traffic flows.
“A signalised junction at the Passage Road/Falcondale Road junction, with pedestrian crossing provision, was generally welcomed – provided the right turn from Passage Road into Greystoke Avenue was also optimised in order to avoid potential conflicts.
"There was near-universal condemnation of the proposed bus lane in Westbury Village and blocking off Stoke Lane at its junction with the War Memorial roundabout. It can only be hoped that the council takes due cognisance of the feedback from their consultation and do some very serious rethinking before coming back with any revised proposals."
Councillor Gollop said: “The A4018 proposals have upset many local residents; not only were the proposals poorly thought through, but the consultation sessions could not cope with the numbers who wanted to attend. Many living on adjoining roads would see volume of traffic increase massively but were not told of the proposals.
“Concerns were raised over the whole of Westbury and Henleaze, but the strongest concerns were from those who would be unable to easily leave or access their own homes: Downs Road, Falcondale and Henbury Roads, and those affected by the Westbury Village plans making Church Road and Westbury Court Road a major thoroughfare. The second group of very concerned residents were those wanting to know how they would access the doctor’s surgery and get home again, get to Canford cemetery, or simply access shops and businesses in Westbury Village. The third group were those whose roads would now become major “rat-runs” such as Northover Road and side roads in Henleaze.
“Having seen the volume of submissions from concerned residents, I can only hope the council sees sense, withdraws these proposals and starts again. I thank the 3,000+ residents who submitted detailed responses which can have left council officers in no doubt as to the strength of feeling.”
Councillor Smith said: “The number of people who came to our community meetings and the volume of correspondence that we’ve had on this shows just how strongly people feel about it. I hope that the council will take note of this strength of feeling, and come back to residents with a much improved proposal.”
Councillor Radford added: “We are very concerned how the proposals for the pedestrianisation of part of the village will impact on footfall for the traders. "The plans reduce on-street parking, which is already in high demand and if you cannot find a space in one car park, it will be a difficult journey to get to the other car park, thus encouraging visitors to the Village to go elsewhere.”