Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Council House to Temple Meads - via Damascus

Earlier this month I blogged about the need to safeguard Plot 6, the development site at Temple Meads, before it goes into the fire sale of SWRDA's assets. It encouraged me to put a question about it to Gary Hopkins at Tuesday's council meeting - but his reply was seriously ambiguous, it could have meant anything from a fully integrated multimodal city transport hub to a bus stop outside the SWRDA office. Probably the latter, seeing that BCC officers have been actively opposing any designation of the site for an interchange.

All the more surprising, then, that within 18 hours of that exchange, Gary and I were again dealing with Plot 6, this time in a BBC radio interview. And suddenly Gary sounded really positive about a transport hub.

The details and links to the interview are on a Green Party press release here; possibly the LibDems will be giving their own interpretation. Gary's critics will find it easy to point to weaknesses and ambiguities in what he says (short radio interviews aren't the best place to spell out your plans, or to put them in a readable way), but let's for once give him the benefit of the doubt.

All we need now is a bit more flesh on the plans, and something firm in the council's own policy statements. Not much to ask....

This could be the dawn of a decent transportation system in Bristol. Yes, really.


Tim M. said...

Not sure how much of a departure from previous thinking this really is, though maybe it's the first time it got clearly spelt out in public.

The last I heard was that council officers were planning to have the BRT/ULR stop for Temple Meads somewhere in the south west corner of the Temple Circus Gyratory (with exact details and future of the road system there unspecified). The stated reason for this was that the BRT would be doing an anti-clockwise circle around the city centre, so putting the stop in that corner would avoid two crossings of the gyratory system before continuing on Temple Way towards the centre, thus saving a lot of time (and planning headaches). There would then be a 'high-quality underground tunnel / connection' to Temple Meads station, it was stated. It seems pretty clear that the natural endpoint of that underground pedestrian link would be the Plot 6 site.

As I read the transcript, the plan is still to build up at least part of the Plot 6 site (that's pretty much a financial necessity I'd say) and nothing was said about the old shed, so I assume plans to transform that into shops/ticketing are still unchanged.

Furthermore, at no point did he mention that the plan was for long-distance coach services to be routed via the new hub, which is - as I understand it - pretty central to your Plot 6 scenario Pete, isn't it? (I'm not really sure that's feasible or desirable at this point anyway, but that's just me of course - the station is just too far away from the real city centre at the moment).

I was thrilled to see him talk about "the Ultra-Light Rail" at some point, but sadly that was revised again later.

Stockwood Pete said...

Like you, I've no idea whether this is the shift that we'd like to see.... but Gary was certainly showing a rare enthusiasm for a major transport hub. Anyway, I'm keeping a half-full glass on this one.

You're right in saying the only requirement so far has been a BRT stop - initially by the Temple Quay offices, but currently where you say on the Victoria St corner of the gyratory. Which is a hell of a long walk from the London platforms at Temple Meads!

The nearest Gary came to talking about coaches was to say (and this needs decoding)
"there's a number of types of transport that need to come together - coaches, potentially the ultra-light rail system might run into there, and basically we need to, what we've actually done is, insisted that a condition be put on the sale that will effectively give the city council a right to demand that it's reserved for, whatever other development happens, that the transport is paramount."

Of course the politics and practicalities of getting the coach station transferred are something else - though I believe the Marlborough St. land actually belongs to N. Somerset.

GeaVox said...

Mmmmm I'll take the glass-half-empty position anytime Pete, seems to me Cllr. Gary Hopkins has his eye on Nick Clegg's job and is practicing his Lib-Dem Double-speak!

Go on, call me cynical, I don't mind... ;oD

"A green steam" said...

Thanks for this.

Stockwood Pete said...

Tess Green and I followed this up at the Scrutiny meeting (Sust, Devt. & Transport) on Thursday. It's a cross-party group (though there was no Tory present), and there was a consensus that the whole of Plot 6 (not just a bit for a BRT stop) should be safeguarded for a proper transport hub. They'll put that view in 'a form of words' so it will be on record, just as Gary Hopkins' words now are.

It all suggests that the Plot 6 opportunity is entering the political mainstream.

One of the fears, though, is that government will insist on raising as much as poss from Plot 6 and the RDA's other assets simply to pay for the substantial costs of closing it down and paying everyone off.