Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft

Comment ID 8128769//1
Document Section Sites and Policies Plan Consultation Draft Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead PH3 View all on this section
Respondent Deleted User View all by this respondent
Response Date 19 Apr 2013

My comment on the proposed Portishead railway

My first visit to Portishead was by train – in 1955 at the age of 7. My family moved here shortly after and I was brought up here until I moved away in 1966 but my parents lived here ever since 1955. I have moved back in the last 3 years.

Obviously huge changes have occurred in Portishead in that time and I have watched them with interest. The population has grown from almost 5000 to over 22000.

I have followed the progress of the proposed development of the railway as best I could but it has been extremely difficult to find information easily. Please tell me where information has been easy to find in the public domain. This website has been very difficult to use and I am an accomplished computer user. What about all the older people who cannot competently use a computer – have their views been taken into account?  I would suggest that the very small number of comments on the consultation (131 comments as I write, just 24 hours before the consultation ends) is because people have been unable to find how to access the information and then how to actually make a comment and post it. Or it could be that they are just not interested. Where was the information about the consultation days which happened in mid March to be found? I did not know they were even happening and I do read all the local papers.

When the information for the Evidence Paper Policy Reference PH3 was gathered it seems that the new layout of Junction 19 on the M5 had not been completed. As many respondents to this consultation have stated the delays at that junction are much less now. Quoting from the Overview of the Portishead to Bristol Transport Corridor “delays and lost productivity for car drivers and goods vehicle operators…..presents a major hurdle”. This implies that a train service would be much quicker than driving along the A369 to Bristol (which is where most of the vehicles are apparently going). I dispute this – think about the time it would take to get from home to the station, then the alleged 17 minute journey to Bristol (including the train travelling very slowly as it makes it way from Option 1 towards Quays Avenue and past The Vale and the Village Quarter) and then the walking, cycling (assuming cycles are allowed on the train), bus journey or taxi to the final destination. Overall journey times will not be reduced.

Also the overall cost of travel will not be significantly reduced – if at all. No doubt there will be charges for car parking at any of the proposed station sites. Then there is the cost of the train journey itself followed by the cost of the ongoing journey to the final destination.

I hear that the local bus timetable has been vastly improved in the last few weeks, almost to the state of a proper bus service. Although this would use the A369 surely a bus can get to far more places where people might want to go than a train? I am thinking here of all the people going to work in Bristol who do not all work at Temple Meads.

We are also told that “the project will also assist in the delivery of wider social wellbeing and quality of life objectives…”. This is blatantly not true for all the many people who live near any of the proposed stations or indeed the railway line itself. As The Vale was built from about 1998 onwards and the Village Quarter much more recently then everyone who lives anyway near the proposed stations or the line have been duped into thinking that they have a nice outlook in a quiet and rural area. Their dreams are about to be shattered – and no doubt their finances too when they try to sell their houses.

Quoting again: “There is a great amount of interest and support for the project within the local community, based on the frequency with which the project is raised positively by business, members of the public and community organisations, to the council”. My guess is that less than 10% of the Portishead population who are old enough to understand and have a view on the proposal are  being talked about here. That leaves 90% unaccounted for. We are not told how many individuals or organisations have talked with the council against the proposal.

Can anyone tell me what the stations would be like? Are they planned to be small, quiet, halt like stations with few staff, or would they be larger and noisier with tannoy announcements every half hour?

I think it is clear from my comments so far that I am not in favour of the proposed railway link to Bristol being built. I have not been asked if I want this railway or if I will use it. I understand that it will run at a loss. Who will pay this shortfall? If it is North Somerset Council, they will obviously be asking for increased Council Tax payments. Will I be able to NOT pay any increase as I did not want it in the first place? Of course not. If it is the railway companies taking the hit that will mean increased fares.

If the railway does eventually have to go ahead then these are my observations on the 3 options.

Option 1

Again quoting “Relatively good highway access via Harbour Road…”. Have the people who wrote this actually been along Harbour Road? It is well used and the junction at the Waitrose/Lidl/ Travelodge junction is a nightmare at the best of times. With a proposed car park of 100 more cars using that junction it will be on the verge of dangerous. Most people, being people, will still drive to the station even if they live within walking distance. And this would be even worse when it was raining. Would 100 car spaces be enough or would a multi storey car park have to be built, blighting the look of the area. Also, at present, parking is allowed at the Harbour Road Medical Practice end and opposite Lidl. This causes much frustration to drivers and it blocks free passage along the Harbour Road.

Option 2 and Option 3

The proximity to houses on The Vale and the Village Quarter suggests that these should not be an option. Can anyone tell me what the “mitigation measures to reduce the localised environmental impact” might be?

If the stations are of the larger style the noise, the air quality and the litter would be unacceptable to the householders nearby. A larger multi storey car park at either location would also be unacceptable. Parking on the 2 estate roads would have huge implications.

At Option 2 a flyover type road would look very out of keeping with the present area and the proposed Quays Avenue/Phoenix Way/ Harbour Road junction would certainly have a hugely detrimental visual and environmental impact. Also Quays Road is busy at most times of the day and especially at rush hours. Trying to access Phoenix Way from Quays Road or Harbour Road has been a huge source of irritation and delay ever since people moved into the area.

To sum up, I am NOT in favour of money being spent on a railway to link Portishead with Bristol when there are far more pressing things that need that money – new schools is a good start. But if the railway does have to be built then Option 1 is my choice for the station, as long as there is not a flyover on Quays Avenue and that the trains run v e r y  s l o w l y from the station to at least after the bridge on Sheepway.

For me, the whole project seems to have been organised (?) from behind  desks by people who do not know the area at all and who do not live anywhere near the proposed stations or route. This seems to be the same as the people who organised (?) the painting of the double yellow lines in harbour Road – all in the wrong place!

Let’s stop, take stock, think again – are we really doing the right thing? The impact of getting it wrong will last for very many years.