Trees face chop for new path and cycleway

February 01 2020
Trees face chop for new path and cycleway

MORE than 20 trees next to one of Bristol's busiest roads are set to be chopped down to make way for a new cycleway and footpath.

The city council is planning to remove the trees as part of a scheme to improve bus, pedestrian and cycle journeys on Muller Road between Horfield and the M32.

The council announced on the Travelwest website that it had agreed to "release" a strip of land rented by Fairfield High School for its playing fields, between the Stottbury Road and Station Lane junctions, "in order to enable bus, walking and cycling improvements in the nearby area".

It has to launch a public consultation because the land forms part of the school’s sports facilities and it needs permission for the change from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

The council says the land being taken for the scheme is classed as ‘informal social space’ and does not involve the loss of any space for existing courts and pitches, although the tennis courts are set to be moved around 2m further away from the road.

No indication that the trees will be lost appears in the announcement – but council engineering design plans show that between 20 and 30 trees are due to be removed.

Under the plans the Fairfield High School side of the road, where traffic heads towards Horfield, will have a new footpath, separate cycleway and upgraded bus stop with lay-by.

The opposite side, heading towards the M32, will have a 24-hour bus lane.

The statement on the Travelwest website says: "The changes are being undertaken to enable a wide segregated walking and cycling facility from Dormer Road all the way to the railway bridge over Muller Road, which will provide a safe route to school for the children using this route, as well as an improved route for all other users of Muller Road.

"This land release is a key part of the changes to Muller Road. Without the land release, routes to Fairfield High School, Trinity Academy, and the new Ashley Down station will be less safe and less attractive, resulting in more congestion and a less safe road environment."

If approved work will start next year and the changes will be in place by 2022.

The consultation runs until March 1 and can be found here.

Comments can be made on the site or by emailing transport.projects@bristol.gov.uk with “Fairfield land release” in the subject line.

A city council spokesperson said any trees lost under the scheme would be replaced according to the Bristol Tree Replacement Standard, with larger trees requiring up to seven trees to be planted to compensate for their loss.

The spokesperson added: “We have agreed terms with Fairfield High School to reduce the amount of land they lease from us, as part of the changes to Muller Road.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) considers the strip of land to be playing fields, which means we are required to consult with any groups that use the school’s sports facilities before we can apply for consent from the ESFA to proceed.

Making the strip of land available, will mean we can make bus, walking and cycling improvements in the nearby area. The improvements will provide a safe route to the school for the children, as well as an improved route for all other users of Muller Road. There will also be a new bus lane opposite Fairfield High School near the Old Library, improving journeys for all bus users. 

If permission is granted, there will be exactly the same amount of space for the existing tennis courts and other pitches – and as part of the proposal we will be resurfacing the tennis courts, which will improve their condition.”

Consultations on the Muller Road scheme took place last year and in the area by the playing fields, improvements to pavements were supported by almost 60% of respondents, with just under half supporting improved cycling facilities. Bus lanes were the least popular proposed changes, opposed by almost half of respondents.

Overall the biggest concerns of people who answered the survey were congestion and air pollution, with people calling for more improvements to traffic lights above anything else.

The two biggest groups of respondents were motorists, followed by pedestrians.