Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Bristol Friends of the Earth objection to access road for BCFC Stadium

Submission of Bristol Friends of the Earth to North Somerset P and R D Committee Wed 26th May on the planning application for the new BCFC Football Stadium

Bristol FOE strongly urge you to reject the recommendation of your officers and refuse planning permission for the access road. The Travel Plan presented by the Club as the basis for a Transport strategy for the new stadium is a piece of fiction with figures deliberately manipulated to under-represent the number of extra cars arising from the new development and so paint a unrealistically rosy picture of the traffic and parking impacts on local streets and the local highway network .

Your officers have given you poor advice in relation to the Travel Plan and in the statement that ‘to turn down the application would be disproportionate’. The traffic problems which will inevitably follow from the grant of planning permission on the basis of this flawed Plan will not stay on the Bristol side of the border and both Councils will be involved in conflict with fans and local residents, additional expense and staff time when it turns out to be unworkable. The current stadium has three entrances all in Bristol, the new one will be squarely in North Somerset.

You should turn down this planning application on the basis that the combined Traffic Assessment/Travel Plan is so fundamentally flawed that it is unreliable. Even if you support a stadium, you should ask the Club to go away and only come back with a new Plan which starts with a realistic baseline for the current number of cars so effective monitoring and enforcement can take place, contains concrete measures for travel behaviour change by its fans, evidence of current and future parking areas and costings of bus and parking arrangements. All are lacking from the current Plan. And your officers need to ensure that there are prenegotiated safeguards in the Plan which Councils can enforce in the event of failure on the part of fans and the Club to meet the Plan’s agreed conditions.

Vanishing cars

The function of a Traffic Assessment/Travel Plan is for the applicant to come up with a strategy to deal with the extra cars arising from a new development and for Council officers to assess its reliability and effectiveness to protect the highway network and adjoining residents and agree its implementation and enforcement. The role of the officers is not simply to rubberstamp. Nothing in the Club’s documents or public statements has shown a real willingness to tackle the crunch issue of how they get their fans out of their cars so that local communities are not swamped by an even bigger parking free for all than exists at the moment. Instead the main aim of the Club’s combined Travel Plan/Traffic Assessment has been to’ lose’ cars. Two independent transport consultants working with local residents have advised us how the ‘vanishing cars’ effect has been achieved by the Club’s transport consultants.

1. Organise a 2008 fans’ survey. The results show 57% are car drivers and 18% passengers. Discover that these figures give an increase in cars of a whopping 4971 extra, so ignore it and use lower figures (32% car drivers and 51% passengers plus a high passenger per car figure in 2) to show a future increase in cars of only 2769. A loss of 2022 cars.

2. Use a high figure for 1.6 passengers in each car which is also not supported by answers in the fans survey.

3. Put forward a planning application for a 30,000 seater stadium but a Travel Plan for only 23,800. Result 1,600 less cars even using the Club’s flawed method.

4. Use the 23,800 figure and 1 and 2. to conclude that the total of extra cars will be only 2,800.

5. Produce a Travel Plan which you claim reduces the extra cars by about half (1383). Do not provide any detailed figures, breakdowns or costings of how you achieve this. Fail to set any targets for increasing cycling, walking and public transport use to the new Stadium. Our calculations show that the 20 extra buses and 140 bike parking spaces in the Travel Plan (using their figure of 2.6 people in each car) can only reduce cars by 670 even if all extra 20 buses were full 80 seaters and all bike parking spaces used. What measures in the Travel Plan achieved the disappearance of the other 713 cars?

6. Stick to your claim that the Travel Plan reduces cars by 1383, this leaves just 1411 cars to use in your modelling of the impact on the road network. Use a model that deals shows only the Stadium traffic not the combined Sainsburys and the Stadium impact.

7. When the Traffic Assessment shows that even with only 1411 cars you will still have congestion and queueing at the entrance to the new Stadium, use the fallback that it is only once a fortnight for part of the year and special traffic measures will be put in place on those days.

The conclusion of our two transport professionals is that more realistic trip generation figures would render the junctions and links surrounding the proposed stadium inoperable.

BCFC’s inability to find adequate parking

It is extremely unlikely that the club will find the required extra off street parking even at the artificially low figure of 1411. The Club’s current parking policy is a ‘find your own parking space’ free for all for non season ticket holders (home and away) and a similar free for all for season ticket holders once the parking spaces arranged by the Club at sites such as Wickes and Clanage Road are full. There is certainly no information on their website to direct fans who are not in the know to prearranged sites. For example, at Wickes season ticket holders get first preference as the Club’s steward limits the cars depending on how many shoppers are using Dreams and Wickes .We were told by a fan if you don’t wear the team colours and act as if you are planning to buy a bed or some DIY equipment, you can get past the steward. If this fails, see if you can get into the Sainsburys car park as they have no attendant.

Our understanding is that the Club has 1,500 off street parking spaces arranged with local businesses and a further 451 spaces at Ashton Gate, about off street approx. 2,000 spaces in total. Within the last couple of months the Club has lost the use of the sizeable Park and Fly site at South Liberty Lane which is now to be used for rail. The 200 space Imperial Tobacco site is also up for sale or rent.

Following the recent yellow lining of Brunel Way so that fans could no longer park there, anger was directed towards the City Council. These recent events highlights the insecure nature of the Club’s current parking arrangements and does not bode well for the future. Parking space can be withdrawn at the will of the owners if arrangements don’t work out or a change of use, activity or ownership occurs.

We asked the Club to explain how they would meet the requirement for 1411 new parking spaces.

They said that the new Stadium will have 1230 new car spaces if you include 250 car spaces and 130 car spaces for 24 coaches in the Park and Ride site in the total. However,at the same time they would lose 451 parking spaces in the current Stadium and 150 cars would be displaced from Ashton vale and 90 from Long Ashton by the Residents Parking Zones. So the move to the new Stadium results in a displacement of 691 spaces where fans park now so the net increase will be only 549 spaces.

We asked for evidence of additional new parking sites and were told that an ‘extension ‘at Clanage Road has been negotiated . It is not clear if this is a extension in time or space. I investigated the further 3 sites given to me by the Club – UWE at Bower Ashton has 100 spaces and the other two were working industrial units with a total of about 30 spaces. The Club is still negotiating with all of them. The Club also mentioned additional parking spaces at the other two Park and Ride sites. Reserving Park and Ride parking spaces for football fans at a peak shopping time is we believe an issue that merits full public discussion in the context of the both North Somerset and Bristol’s future transport policy before it is agreed between the Council officers and the Club. In view of the annual subsidy of Park and Ride sites from Council funds, it is vital that any parking of football coaches and fans cars pays its way and do not hinder the current operation of sites or impact economically on tourism or shopping in the Centre of Bristol.

Flaws in the Travel Plan include manipulated results, lack of detailed costings of measures particularly Park and Ride site parking , lack of targets for increasing cycling, walking and public transport use to the new Stadium, unreliable traffic modelling and complete lack of safeguards to protect local residents and the road network when higher traffic results. Combined with the lack of real evidence that the Club can maintain its existing parking level let alone find an inadequate 1411 spaces on top, means you have more than ample grounds for rejecting the planning application. Thank you


  1. Hi,

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    I came across it while doing some research into electric bikes. I think the research and reporting you're doing is impressive, by the way.

  2. Tony
    You claim that the club are manipulating figures and then come out with this beauty yourself: They said that the new Stadium will have 1230 new car spaces if you include 250 car spaces and 130 car spaces for 24 coaches in the Park and Ride site in the total. However,at the same time they would lose 451 parking spaces in the current Stadium.

    Just so people are not confused, the current stadium parking is not included in the figure for the new stadium. So as usual you are manipulating things to show a false picture in support of your argument.

  3. Hi Rich,

    Two points;

    Firstly, although I would love to take credit for the work done by Bristol Friends of the Earth and their transport consultants, as the title of this article states, this is their work not mine.


    I am afraid that you've completely lost me - I simply don't understand the point you are making.....

    Of course the current stadium parking is not included in the figure for the new stadium. Why would it be?

  4. Tony
    This is in your article: They said that the new Stadium will have 1230 new car spaces if you include 250 car spaces and 130 car spaces for 24 coaches in the Park and Ride site in the total. However,(at the same time they would lose 451 parking spaces in the current Stadium)
    Some traffic consultants friends of the earth use eh!

  5. Just catching up on a few blogs after a while away. Rich, FOE was explaining how the net increase of spaces is 549 (tho I make it 539); of course they have to deduct the spaces that are currently there to get that figure.