The South Bristol Link – A Road to Nowhere?

The idea of a completing the Bristol ring road by providing the missing links in South & East Bristol has been around a long time. The route across South Bristol has been protected for decades but somehow to date it has never been delivered. Every time it has reared its ugly head environmental campaigners, politicians and local communities have opposed it and the final decision has never been made to implement.

And so it seems we are going round that very same loop all over again. The ring road, or the South Bristol Link as it is now called, is back on the agenda and planning applications have been submitted to Bristol and North Somerset Councils. The environmental lobby and local people are rachetting up their opposition and the LEP and business groups are pulling together their supporters ready for yet another battle.

One of the questions that always springs to my mind when considering this issue, as I have 2-3 times as a local councillor and more recently as a business representative, is what is the problem we are trying to solve with this very expensive solution? The answer invariably is crafted around reducing congestion and opening up access to South Bristol.Two very worthy matters that certainly need addressing, but I would argue that we appear to be stuck on a solution that was developed 20-30 years ago and haven’t spent any reasonable time in open debate about other better, cheaper and more acceptable solutions. Is that right and does it really solve the problem?

The route of the SBL through Highridge and Hartcliffe is challenging to say the least. The route takes us across common land, down residential streets and along green spaces between houses. Is that what improving access is about in a 21st century green city? At the other end of the route there are plans to put in place a roundabout on the A370 dual carriageway close to the Long Ashton Park & Ride, a road already severely congested at peak times. How does that help? With the added complication of linking across green space between the A370 and the A38 (across what is currently contested as a village green) the route seems fraught with all kinds of problems.

Yet the LEP and local councils seem determined to continue against all the opposition that has existed over the years and against what is likely to be even greater opposition this time. So who is right, are the opponents just looking after their own self interest, and acting like typical Nimbys, are the councils wrong and just chasing government funding and will providing a link road through South Bristol really encourage businesses to move there and solve congestion problems?

Only time will tell whether or not such a road will create jobs and encourage business to locate in the area, but all my instincts tell me that providing improved road access to South Bristol is only a very minor part of the problem. Businesses will still not locate there if the office/business space is not attractive, the right skills are not available locally and the local environment doesn’t provide what their staff need.

Isn’t it time our local decision makers started to think about real solutions that local people sign up to and want instead of funding led solutions that meet government agendas but may not actually solve the problems they claim to be trying to solve?

11 thoughts on “The South Bristol Link – A Road to Nowhere?

  1. Tessa I think you have an anti-car bias and cannot accept that the very reason south Bristol has suffered from greater poverty, lack of job opportunities and a lower life expectancy than south Glos, is precisely because of the extremely poor road network and links to the M4.


  2. Craig – not necessarily anti-car, just looking for the best solutions and ones that fit with the identified problems. Agree access is an issue and North Fringe has definitely benefited from Motorway access, but South Bristol is a whole different issue. Access is part of the problem, but is it access to, across, through or from? Will better access really improve all the disadvantages and problems S.Bristol faces? And in this day and age are we really only talking about car access?


  3. The North Fringe and South Bristol are “chalke and cheese”. One has 3 motorways and a dual carriageway “ring road”, many thousands of new jobs, thousands of new homes, and tens of thousands of new residents. The other has none of these, and a single carriageway road with the congested A370 at one end is not the answer. In fact, apart from the jobs, I doubt many people living here would want the others anyway! Investment is already taking place, although more jobs suitable for the skills available would be welcome, and affordable homes are also a priority, but S/Bristol is a good place to live with many green spaces and a good community and I don’t see how this new road would be much advantage.


    • Spot on with your comments, there is much to love about South Bristol that goes unrecognised by those that don’t live or work there. Jobs to reflect local skills and workforce are critical as are affordable homes. The biggest opportunity for South Bristol is Hengrove Park where jobs and affordable housing could provide solutions.


      • And, I would add, it’s about time the quality of life for residents was taken into account as part of the decision making process, which sadly does not seem to be the case at present. A lesson for those who complain when the community fights back and they don’t get their way!


  4. The question I would like answered is how much the tunnel /bridge under the Exeter Bristol rail link will REALLY cost,it appears to me that this mammoth engineering task could rapidly escalate well beyond the budget allocated to it ,if it does who picks up the bill? Is it true that rail track require the tunnel /bridge to be able to carry a four track rail system
    The Winterstoke road has been cynically engineered out of use as a major arterial road ,why don’t we reengineer this into a usable link with the traffic lights at the north end being elliminated so traffic flow is positive ,then the SBLROAD is not required ,also a set of traffic lights at the Brockley Combe A38 junction would encourage airport traffic to use this link
    All this at a fraction of the cost of the SBLROAD and we keep the green belt in tact


    • Agree with you absolutely about Winterstoke Road and how much that will improve access to South Bristol. The whole Winterstoke Road, Parson Street interchange area is a joke and needs some serious reworking.


  5. All that is required to solve the Winterstoke road problem is a removal of all pedestrian lights and the installation of foot/cycle bridges over the road. Parson Street area is a whole other can of worms and is in my opinion one of the most dangerous bits of road planning that has ever been concocted. That was the case before the insanity of the bus lane. The congestion is part of the great council plan to introduce congestion charging as far as I can see. The single most productive thing anyone could do is to simply remove all bus lanes and traffic calming in Bristol, we would the see there is no need for this silly ring road. They complain about traffic speed and then impose 20mph speed limits all over the place, it’s blatantly obvious they have not reached the “joined up thinking” yet.
    I despair to think that this council controls our future………….


    • Glad to see someone has vision,unlike the west of England dictatorship sorry partnership, app Reese sNorth Somerset council
      And probably BCCouncil


  6. Pingback: Blogging for a year – how did that happen? | TessaCoombes

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