More than 250 people attended a meeting with the Mayor of Bristol today to show their opposition to controversial proposals for a South Bristol link road.
The meeting, organised by the South Bristol Wrong Road Facebook Group, was held at St Augustine’s Church in Whitchurch and a short film outlining how the road would carve through the landscape between Hicks Gate roundabout and Whitchurch was played.
The meeting was called by opponents led by Faye Dicker, who provides the narration for the film called ‘No Ring Road for Whitchurch & Stockwood’.
The proposed road would link the A4 to the A37 and onwards to the A4174 via Whitchurch Lane, passing through the Green Belt between Stockwood and Whitchurch.
In the film, Faye says: “This will cause irreversible damage to the environment, wildlife, and the communities that exist along the proposed route and further afield.
“The proposed route starts at Hicks Gate roundabout heading towards Stockwood, passing directly through Oakleaze Farm, destroying hedgerows, woodland and killing wildlife.
“From here it will travel next to the homes and gardens of Stockwood residents. It will then weave its way towards Queen Charlton, crossing two roads, before landing on a new roundabout positioned between a children’s play park and a cemetery. The park is protected by Queen Elizabeth II Fields Trust.
“We are now faced with two possible routes: Route A will pass through Bristol Barbarians RFC and continues through Green Belt farmland before squeezing between two residential properties, crossing roads and fields, ultimately spewing on to Whitchurch Lane, just 250 metres from Bridge Farm Primary School.
“Route B is just as bad, passing through a large stretch of Green Belt land, with a roundabout landing on a residential street before making its way alongside Bridge Farm Primary School and out on to Whitchurch Lane.
“Regardless of the route, we are now onto Whitchurch Lane, a 20mph zone with traffic calming, zebra crossing, weight limit, homes on both sides – a road that is already heavily congested on a daily basis. We understand that Whitchurch Lane’s capacity is 1,500 vehicles per hour. It currently operates at 1,250 vehicles per hour…This road cannot sustain any additional traffic. When you consider health, wellbeing, child safety, effectiveness and the importance of connectiveness for the community, wildlife and the environment, this ring road will clearly fail.”
Mr Rees repeatedly told the meeting that “change is coming” and that the city, which already has a housing crisis, and the wider West of England must be prepared, with transport solutions needed for the 105,000 homes the Government says is needed for the region, 3,500 of which are proposed for the South Bristol area (which includes Whitchurch Village in B&NES).
He also told residents: “We need to find some common foundations that we can agree on.”
And he urged them: “If you have alternatives, please put them on the table.”
He said that he, along with the region’s Metro Mayor Tim Bowles and B&NES Council leader Tim Warren, have recently written to the Secretary of State to show their support for their West of England colleague Toby Savage, the leader of South Gloucestershire Council, who is contesting three major plans by speculative developers in his district.
Mr Rees explained that speculative development meant the risk of ending up with no transport infrastructure plans.
After the meeting he tweeted: “Thank you to the residents who invited me to the South Bristol orbital route meeting – Bristol is wrestling with population growth and a housing crisis. Development will come and we must find agreement on how we meet that challenge together.”
Organisers of the meeting urge people to share their thoughts, concerns and complaints with Mr Rees and Metro Mayor Tim Bowles, local MPs, Bristol and B&NES councils, and councillors and sent people away from the meeting with their contact details.
Tonight David Millard, who is a lead member of the campaign group, said: “A small group of absolute strangers a few days ago put together an event any events co-ordinator would have been delighted with.
“It goes to show how determined us South Bristol folks are about protecting the environment for now and for the next generation… If we can deliver such a loud and professional message to the Mayor with under a week to prepare then the authorities need to be very, very worried. The support is and has been staggering.
“Battle one to the residents with many more to come!”
And South Bristol MP Karin Smith said: “The two possible sites for the proposed link road from the A37 onto Whitchurch Lane are completely unacceptable to me and to many local residents.
“In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be continuing to campaign against these proposals at every opportunity.”