Two of our committee members attended this workshop at St Stephen’s Church on the evening of Wednesday 27th July on behalf of the Resident’s Association Committee.
The workshop, which lasted for 2.5 hours, was attended by approximately 35 people from the Kingsmead and Lansdown area – a neighbourhood running north from Upper Bristol Rd to Kingswood School and from Park Lane in the west to Lansdown Road in the east. So it included people from the area around the Circus, Julian Road, St James Square, Cavendish Road, Lansdown Crescent as well as Sion Hill and Summerhill Road. The workshop, was hosted by the Liveable Neighbourhoods team at Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), and led on their behalf by a company called Aecom. At least two ward councillors were also present, including Mark Elliot, our ward councillor, although Lucy Hodge our other ward councillor was unable to attend as she was on holiday.
The aim of the Liveable Neighbourhood (LN) programme is to reduce the dominance of vehicles in residential areas and provide opportunities for walking, wheeling, cycling and public realm improvements whilst maintaining access to homes and businesses. Measures to achieve this might include vehicle restrictions, traffic calming, residents parking zones and one way streets. Benefits might include improved well-being, reduced air pollution, better accessibility and a stronger community feel.
The LN initiative is part of B&NES’s Council Action Plan for Journey to Net Zero (Carbon) by 2030 alongside, Residential Parking Zones and Electric Vehicle Charging. Consultation on LNs first kicked off in October 2020. In June 2021, 15 LNs were prioritised including Kingsmead and Lansdown. Initial public engagement and agreement of themes took place in December 2021 with 375 responses from local residents and the workshop, which was one of 15 held across the city, was the next stage in the process.
Purpose of the Workshop
For participants to have their say on an approach to developing a LN and to give specific consideration to how people in the neighbourhood move around it whether by car, public transport, cycling or on foot – with a heavy emphasis on what can be done to reduce car journeys, changing behaviours and perspectives. Patricia and I voiced our concerns about such matters as speed and congestion on Cavendish Road but we also wanted to hear what others were saying from different parts of the neighbourhood and we had a special concern about potential measures that might be considered on Cavendish Road which could have an adverse impact upon access to Sion Hill and Summerhill Road. Notwithstanding the positive aims of LNs, maintaining vehicular access will be one of the biggest concerns and something upon which everyone on Sion Hill and Summerhill Road will surely have an opinion.
The Workshop Process and Outcomes
The participants divided into 6 groups and over the course of the evening primarily considered first, what they didn’t like about the neighbourhood and second, what measures might be considered to improve it. The themes were then shared with the group as a whole. There was a surprising amount of consensus. Outputs relevant to Sion Hill and Summerhill Road included:
- Cavendish Road, Winifred’s Lane and Marlborough Lane are very busy verging on the dangerous with too many vehicle movements and high levels of speed
- Rat runs also exist around the St James’s Square area which can be dangerous
- The Marlborough Tavern crossroads remains difficult to navigate despite recent improvements
- The Julian Road/Lansdown Road junction is difficult to navigate
- Julian Road and Crescent Lane are community thoroughfares which could be enhanced with better public realm
- There is a lack of enforcement of both road speed and restriction of lorry movements on Cavendish Road
- The proliferation of E-Scooter parking on pavements is both ugly and restricts access
- The closure of some public transport services, due to funding cuts, has to be a concern
- There is too much on street parking taken up by local hotels and Airbnb occupiers
- The steepness of “the hill” always has to be remembered – some neighbours rely on cars for access and would be unable to walk or cycle up the hill(s)
- School runs are a major cause of congestion
- Cavendish Road has become more a route to the motorway, following the changes to Queen’s Square – some stats suggest that vehicle movements have more than doubled.
- Rather than focus on individual neighbourhoods, a city-wide circulation plans is needed
Potential measures suggested to improve the situation and relevant to Sion Hill and Summerhill Road
- Roadway restriction to slow down traffic speed including more crossing points and use of traffic calming chicanes – particularly on Cavendish Road
- A couple of the groups suggested introduction of “modal filters” on Cavendish Road which might only permit local residents to use the road by reference to automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) – our concern would be how would you define “local residents” and what about visitors including carers, tradespeople etc.
- Greater use and availability of car pools/car clubs
- Greater availability of Electric Vehicle Charging
- Do something to tidy up the scooter parking
- Further afield, possibly one way traffic direction on Marlborough Lane and/or a junction with Royal Avenue – with Royal Avenue having priority.
The consultants will work up the best ideas and suggestions into a viable plant to be fed back as follows:
- Community Engagement September 2022 – providing a chance for the wider community to comment on the approach developed through the workshops and identify opportunities for further pilot interventions.
- Detailed Design & Consultation November 2022 – using the feedback gained from the workshops and community engagement, detailed designs will be drawn up and consulted upon.
- Implementation 2023 onwards – in some cases with initial temporary measures with a view to them possibly becoming permanent.
This initiative could have major implications both positive and potentially negative on how we move around in our neighbourhood – and especially along Cavendish Road. We will let you know when the next consultation stages start and whilst the Residents Association can seek to represent the area, strength in numbers very much applies here. There are more than 100 households in Sion Hill and Summerhill Road and we would encourage you to make your voices heard when the time arises both singularly and collectively.