Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan consultation on submitted Neighbourhood Plan

Abbots Leigh, Ham Green, Pill and Easton-in-Gordano Neighbourhood Plan

6 Transport and movement

Priimary Objective

Minimise the impact of road traffic on congestion, parking, safety, and pollution.
Encourage walking and cycling and ensure the accessibility, convenience and safety of cycle and walking routes

This Chapter was informed by a consultancy study commissioned from the Peter Evans Partnership, Bristol, whose full report is included as an appendix to Background Paper 2.

6.1 Background

Movement within the Neighbourhood Plan Area is dominated by the A369 bisecting the area from the edge of Bristol to the M5. There are major community concerns about the traffic associated with this busy trunk road - volume, speed, pollution and safety. Also important is the Pill Loop, running from the Haberfield junction on the A369 and rejoining at St. George’s Hill close to the M5. Within Pill itself there are concerns about the volume of traffic through the village, as well as anxieties about parking and safety. Feeding into both the A369 and the Pill Loop run a number of side roads and lanes, many narrow and twisting. Motorised traffic is the largest worry for residents, but there is growing commitment to walking and cycling and there are high hopes for the re-opening of the Portishead rail link.

6.2 Traffic Volumes
The A369 is heavily loaded and congestion occurs at peak times. A local resident-led survey in October 2018 showed total daytime traffic flow into and out of Bristol amounting to around 17,000 motorised vehicles (excluding bicycles). Flow in off-peak day-time hours varied, but on average amounted to 71% of peak hour flow. Both the daily flow and the peak and off-peak split figures are broadly consistent with North Somerset Council figures which suggest a typical split of 60% off-peak. Peak-hour traffic into Bristol accounted for 22% of all daytime traffic. 12-hour daytime traffic is estimated to have made up 81% of all 24-hour traffic.

Cars dominated traffic volumes, amounting to over 80% both through the day and at peak hours. Heavy Goods vehicles flowed throughout the day – around 220 in each direction but making up only 2.5% of all traffic. By contrast vans - 1440 a day towards Bristol and 1210 outwards - comprised 15.5% of all traffic.

On the Pill Loop over two thousand (2,105) vehicles per day passed St. Katherine’s School towards Bristol with around 30% then taking a right turn to Martcombe and the remainder joining the A369 traffic towards Bristol. Roughly the same number (2,190) leave the A369 to go into Pill past St. Katherine’s School. Cars are dominant throughout the day (84%) and even more so at peak hours - 77% towards Bristol, 88% towards Pill, a balance in part explained by the school run in the morning to St Katherine’s School.

At St George’s Hill 2,356 vehicles a day leave Easton-in-Gordano to join the M5 whereas a slightly larger number (2,539) leave the A369 to enter Easton-in-Gordano. (the disparity is probably as a result of the one way exit from Easton onto the A 369 via Rectory Road). By contrast with the main A369, the volume of traffic is spread more evenly throughout the day. The volume and speed of traffic – especially heavy lorries - creates major anxieties at a number of points, with the Sandy Lane/Leigh Court junction on the A369 identified in local consultation as a major danger point.

6.3 Traffic Growth
Not only are the current levels of traffic causing some congestion at peak hours, but further growth seems likely. The latest draft Joint Transport Plan (17) suggests that without major change the most likely local outcomes by 2036 are vehicle trips up by 26%, CO2 emissions up by 22%, and congestion costs running at £800m a year. The removal of tolls on the Severn Bridges and/or the opening of the South Bristol Link together with growth at Royal Portbury Dock may influence traffic levels in and around the Neighbourhood Plan Area over the next seven years (18) although due to COVID-19 and lockdown the level of homeworking has increased and traffic levels have dropped. Nevertheless further increases in peak-hour congestion should be avoided.

(17) West of England Combined Authority. Joint Transport Plan. January 2020
(18) See Chapter 9 below

6.4 Method of Travel
Throughout the Neighbourhood Plan Area over seventy per cent of journeys to work are by car or van either as driver or passenger, 7% by foot or bicycle, 3% by bus with 10% working at or from home. Travel to work is dominated by use of car or van. Around a fifth of residents work within the Neighbourhood Area and probably have work journeys of less than 2 kilometres.(19) Some Pill residents also make long journeys, although half of the journeys to work from Pill/Easton residents in employment are to Portishead, nearby villages and Avonmouth.

6.5 Safety
The Neighbourhood Plan Area is not a high accident area,(20) but despite the relatively small numbers of accidents reported there are fears in the community about speeds on the A369 and the risk of accidents. These are most severe at junctions, where the majority of accidents occur, notably junctions on the A369 and the several side roads joining between the Beggar Bush Lane and the M5 motorway.(21) In particular there are major concerns about the risk to cyclists as they cross side-roads and private entrances when on the cycle path (for example, the exit to the Clifton College sports ground) and when they join and cross the main road from side roads and/or cycle paths.

In Pill there have been concerns about a number of danger points on narrow streets/lanes and/or where visibility is poor. In the 2006-16 Parish Plan for Easton-in-Gordano, Pill and Ham Green there was support for a one-way priority system and for a safety rail on the raised footpath at Lodway. A more recent local transport survey (late 2019) demonstrated that there was continuing support for a 20 mph. speed limit within the Pill & Easton-in-Gordano parish (a wish that has recently been agreed).

(19) Neighbourhood Plan Background Paper 2, Para 2.6-2.7
(20) Neighbourhood Plan Background Paper 2, Para 2.8
(21) Police accident data provided by North Somerset Council

6.6 Parking
Parking is also one of the issues which has emerged in discussions about the Pill Precinct and potential improvements to parking arrangements e.g. on Pill Street and around Victoria Park. These would be an important element in planning the future of the Precinct. The local transport survey endorsed tighter parking policies in Pill –double yellow lines (64% in favour), time limited parking (56%), more enforcement (69%). There was mixed support for a residents parking scheme in some areas (40% for, 33% against). Elsewhere there is likely to be a spillover demand for parking space as a consequence of the opening of the rail station.

In Abbots Leigh current parking difficulties have arisen in Church Road and Manor Road as a consequence of the combination of the re-opening of the George Inn, the opening of a Fitness Gym behind the Village Hall, and the more frequent presence of delivery vans. Improvements to traffic management and parking arrangements in the village need to be considered as a distinct issue - closely related to, but distinct from, the possibilities of a Conservation Area (see Chapter 8 Heritage).

Clear verges help to provide safe walking routes. Throughout the Neighbourhood Area there is a growing incidence of parking on pavements and verges. Parking on pavements obstructs pedestrians especially those with prams or pushchairs. Verges are often a protection for pedestrians but also offer important habitats for insects or small mammals. They can also be useful play spaces for young children.

Generally there is a tension between those who want access to parking to be limited and others wanting it to be made easier, a tension evident from local consultation responses to the Plan in relation to Pill on Macrae Road and to Abbots Leigh on Church Road. Throughout the area there is also tension between motorists – parking on pavements – and pedestrians obstructed by parked cars. It is particularly in the interests of those walking with pushchairs or buggies that pavements should be kept clear. Finally there is tension between those who concrete over gardens to provide parking space and those who wish to see all green space around dwellings protected.

6.7 Capacity, Overload and Congestion

Through Abbots Leigh at the George Inn, the A369 is congested and traffic flow constrained at peak hours and to a lesser extent through the day. The road has frontage access, side roads, bus stops, and an at-grade pedestrian crossing. The speed limit is now 30 mph. Heavy vehicles/buses are often unable to pass each other. Up the Pill Road and towards Martcombe the road is heavily used and at St. George’s Hill traffic flow is limited by the provision of a T-junction traffic light control.
The Pill Loop creates resident concern at the Precinct and the narrow part of the Loop at Lodway has been a concern for years.(22) Technically the road width allows a car and lorry to pass, but with walls on one side and a pedestrian walkway (without railings) on the other only two cars can pass and on-site observation provides evidence that the road is on occasions in practice one way.(23) The frequent misdirection of heavy vehicle bound for Royal Portbury Dock creates unwelcome traffic through Easton-in-Gordano.

There is much cycle movement on the A369 and cycle and pedestrian movement within Pill on the Pill Loop. Residents are hindered by the frequency of the traffic both within Pill, and especially at the Precinct and in Abbots Leigh where crossing from Manor Road to Church Road and vice versa is hazardous.

(22) The 2006-26 Parish Plan for Easton-in-Gordano, Pill and Ham Green highlighted major traffic concerns, and a recent 2019 local survey called for a 20mph speed limit in the parish
(23) PEP consultants observed traffic flows as part of their work for us

6.8 Pollution
The main pollutant measured by NSC locally is nitrogen dioxide (NO2) originating primarily from road traffic emissions. There are two monitoring sites in the Neighbourhood Area – in Pill at the end of Avon Road (the Railway Line) and at the junction of the A369 and the Pill Road (the A369). At the A369 site the mean annual level was 28.0 – the third highest annual level in North Somerset. From November to April inclusive, however, the level of air quality was above 30.0 and reached 45.1, again the third highest level for any month across the whole district.(24) Increases in road traffic emissions should be avoided.(25) Concerns were expressed in consultation that air pollution levels around the M5 and Junction 19 were severe and that monitoring should be extended to give better coverage.

(24) North Somerset Council, 2018 Air Quality Annual Status Report, June 2018
(25) A reduction in emissions is one of several possible actions being considered in the current Bristol Port Company Air Quality Strategy consultation, February 2020. See also para 10.6 following

Cycling and Walking
6.9 Cycle Networks
A shared-use traffic free path runs alongside the A369 from Bridge Road in Leigh Woods all the way to the road into Pill at Ham Green. The section to the George in Abbots Leigh has been designated as National Cycle Route 334 and following Manor Road, past Abbots Pool and then Sandy Lane this continues to Lower Failand and Portbury. This cycle path attracts both commuter riders to Bristol but also recreational cycling, accessing, for example, Leigh Woods, Abbots Pool and Snake’s Well. There are several side entrances and ‘give way’ markings which slow down and deter hardened cyclists. As a result and despite the poor quality of the road surfaces in some places, some cyclists choose to cycle on the main road because it is quicker even if it slows down traffic flow.

The cycling and walking National Cycle Route 41 (using part of the Avon Trail) runs along the towpath beside the River Avon through the Avon Gorge to Chapel Pill, through Watchhouse Hill and Pill and then connects to the cycle route on the Avonmouth Bridge across the river. One section of this route lies within the boundary of Bristol City Council, having been historically the towpath up the river through the Avon Gorge leading to the Port of Bristol. The route is unsurfaced and unlit and is very poorly maintained so that in wet conditions it has become almost impassable in places. Nevertheless this offers a level access into Bristol and is popular as both a commuting and recreational route. Due to lack of maintenance, however, its condition has deteriorated so much that it is now almost impassable in places and needs significant repair works. National Cycle Route 26 branches off Route 41 before the Avonmouth Bridge and goes through Royal Portbury Dock to Sheepway and Portishead.

The 2011 Census shows that only 7.4% of Neighbourhood Area residents in employment travelled to work by bicycle (199 cyclists). Since then the numbers choosing the bicycle as a means of travel – to work and elsewhere – has risen significantly. Cycling has become more popular, cycling has become safer, the cycle path beside the A369 has made travel to and from Bristol more acceptable.

Cycling numbers measured at the four cycling census points within the Neighbourhood Area suggest that some cyclists use the path from Pill to Sheepway – possibly making travel to work journeys to Royal Portbury Dock. Secondly up to half of the cyclists on the A369 use the carriageway rather than the cycle path, reinforcing the point made earlier that many cyclists avoid the cycle path.(26) Finally travel by bicycle to school runs at only 4% of pupils at St. Katherine’s School. The proposed reduction in speed limits in Pill to 20mph will have a positive effect both on safety and in encouraging more cycling both to school and elsewhere within the neighbourhood.

(26) Details of cycling numbers are given in Neighbourhood Plan Background Paper 2, Para 3.2

6.10 Walking: Rights of Way and Footpaths
There is an extensive network of walking routes (some shared with cyclists) into, out of and across the Neighbourhood Area. 61% of respondents to a local 2019 survey used local footpaths on a daily basis with 62% walking between one and five miles. 22% feel unsafe.

Walking to Work and School.
Travel to work on foot (and doing so over a distance of less than 2 kilometres) accounts for around fifteen per cent of work journeys.(27) Walking to work is most likely for those employed locally – to shops in the Precinct or elsewhere, to the Health Centre, to pubs. A few will also walk to work at the two business parks at Eden Park and the Old Brewery or at Penny Brohn, but information collected from such organisations suggests the numbers are low – Eden Park has over 320 parking places, Penny Brohn 80 and both are regularly full. Walking to school is encouraged at Crockerne Primary making a contribution to relieving congestion in the immediate vicinity.

Walking to Access
Services Within Pill there are several walks and lanes which cut down from Westward Drive, Cross Lanes and Crockerne Drive to give access to the retail outlets of the Precinct as well as to the Post Office, the Resource Centre and Victoria Park whilst other lanes provide access upwards to what will be the new rail station. The busy main road through Pill is a difficult crossing for pedestrians to and from the precinct. An additional zebra crossing would be welcome.

Recreational Walking
There are two major trails relevant to the Neighbourhood Plan Area – the River Avon Trail and the Gordano Round. The River Avon Trail (see also Cycling para 6.9 above) runs alongside the river from below the Clifton Suspension Bridge to Pill. The Gordano Round is a circular walk much of it within the Neighbourhood Plan Area whilst the long-distance Monarch’s Way passes through Abbots Leigh.

There are numerous rights of way and footpaths on the Leigh Court Estate as well as some footpaths which lead down through the Bottoms across Priory Fields towards Pill (see map 7). Elsewhere within the Neighbourhood Area there are several shorter footpaths/bridle paths running both through and across the two parishes, as well as a number of lanes and passages within the Pill Settlement boundary which serve to link streets together and/or provide shortcuts to the Pill Precinct.(28) Such routes are important for walkers in general but are crucial in providing safe access for older people, young children and people with disabilities. Some routes would benefit from improvement either as public footpaths or permissive paths and all would benefit from regular maintenance.(29)

(27) See Section 2.8 above
(28) Policies towards the protection, maintenance and enhancement of Rights of Way are set out in NSC Development Management Policy DM 25
(29) The cover of this Plan shows a number of ‘Views from the Footpaths’ a 2019 community project.

Map 7 Rights of Way in the Neighbourhood Area

ROW network

6.11 Active Travel
The availability of Rights of Way and footpaths can encourage active travel. There are a range of initiatives initiated by Travel West and the NSC Cycling Forum which discourage the use of cars and encourage cycling – the loan scheme to try out cycling, for example and efforts to encourage electric bikes (and in the future scooters). Car sharing is one obvious measure especially appropriate for the many commuters into and out of the Neighbourhood Area.

There are also initiatives targeted on children – the National School Training Awards (STARS) which has been adopted by Crockerne Primary School. Elsewhere businesses encourage travel to work by bicycle with Travel Champions as well as car sharing. There is already some car-sharing and cycling to Royal Portbury Dock which the Port Company is working to promote further. Other businesses at Eden Park and the Old Brewery will be encouraged to give greater visibility to Active Travel.

6.12 Public Transport
Buses The Neighbourhood Area is currently served by two bus services. The X4 serves Abbots Leigh, Pill & Easton-in-Gordano whilst the X3 keeps to the A369 bypassing Pill and Easton-in-Gordano. The services have been regarded by the community as being acceptable (subject to occasional irregularity and unreliability) and the recent change to a double decker service was evidence of the commitment of the bus company to a good service. A new Express service to Bristol from Portishead via the Portway will add to available services and may divert some of the load from services using the A369. Nevertheless, the reductions announced (April 2020) are a severe discouragement to the use of the bus from Easton, Pill and Abbots Leigh and may well bring some transfer of traffic from public transport to private vehicle use. This adds to the concerns, set out in Chapter 5, of the impact of any major development likely to affect traffic load on the A369. New development which adds to congestion should be avoided.

Rail A Bristol Temple Meads to Portishead rail service is scheduled to open in 2023. Services will call at Pill, where a restored station will be created (see Map 8). The new service is welcome, will attract some traffic off the roads and will provide faster journeys to Bristol and to Portishead. At the same time the infrastructure required to install and manage the service will create some inconvenience and care needs to be taken in relation to sensitive points. Firstly there is a threat to the environment along the line both at Chapel Pill and particularly at Lodway where the ponds, wetland and woodland provides an important corridor habitat. Wherever possible there should be avoidance of threat to wildlife and restitution of any damage to the ecology of the area.

Secondly there may also be impacts within Pill itself. In particular with the establishment of the Pill rail station and the growth of travel by rail, the area around the station (see Map 8 below) will experience change – potentially more drop off and pick up traffic, parking congestion, more business for local shops, possible residential development proposals. It will be important over the coming years for planning decisions in the immediate area to recognise and take account of such changes.

Map 8 Pill Railway Station

pill map 8



Existing North Somerset Core Strategy and Development Management Policies already in place address Transportation and Movement (CS10), Parking (CS11), Safety, Traffic and Infrastructure (DM 24), Public Rights of Way, pedestrian and cycle access (DM 25), Parking Standards Car Parks (DM 29).

Planning Policies

T 1
New development should be located so as to integrate with well-provided and regular public bus or rail infrastructure and service provision and to minimise traffic congestion and air pollution.

T 2
Rights of Way and pathways within the Neighbourhood Area (and around The Bottoms, Martcombe, Chapel Pill and Ham Green in particular) should be protected, maintained, enhanced and extended.

T 3
The impact of the growth of electric vehicle use (e.g. the need for charging points) should be fully taken into account in assessing domestic, commercial or industrial planning applications.

T 4
Improvement Areas 3 (Abbots Leigh) and 4 (Pill Precinct) should incorporate proposals for the protection and safety of pedestrians and cyclists.

T 5
The impact on local amenity of the re-opening of the Pill railway station (traffic, parking, business and residential activity) should be taken into the consideration of new development/redevelopment.

T 6
New development should be located so as to encourage walking and cycling to work (especially to school) and to ensure access to local retail and public services in Pill.

Community Action Policies

CA/T 1 Improvements to infrastructure (e.g. dropped kerbs and disabled parking) for older people and people with a disability should be made where appropriate.

CA/T 2 Parish Councils will explore the protection of verges and the prevention of pavement parking where they are considered to be a hindrance or hazard to pedestrians.

CA/T 3 (see also Her 1) A review of parking restrictions (including double yellow lines), should be conducted in relation to both Church Road/Manor Road in Abbots Leigh and the Precinct in Pill.

CA/T 4 Bicycle stands should be provided at appropriate locations (shops, school, health centre, public houses, bus stops, and businesses).

CA/T 5 The Parish Councils will pursue Active Travel initiatives across the Neighbourhood Area.

CA/T6 The Parish Councils will work with bus service providers to maintain public bus transport within the Neighbourhood Area

CA/T 7 The Pill & Easton-in-Gordano Parish Council will re-investigate the provision of a safety rail on the raised Lodway footway to ensure pedestrian safety.