Congresbury Neighbourhood Development Plan

4.2 Transport and Highways

Background

The village postcard survey (Appendix C) highlighted the residents concern over the volume of traffic, particularly the number of haulage vehicles that pass through the village.  They felt vulnerable when walking on pavements and crossing roads.  It also discouraged residents from using more sustainable forms of transport such as bicycles.  The aim is to restore the balance and put the safety and needs of pedestrians and cyclists before vehicular movements.

Congresbury lies approximately 5 miles to the east of junction 21 on the M5 motorway.  The village is dissected by two roads - the A370 and the B3133.  The A370 links the village to Weston super Mare in the west and Bristol to the NE.  The B3133 runs from Junction 20 of the M5 at Clevedon to Yatton and through the village to Churchill and the A38.

Congresbury has an excellent bus service along the A370 with regular daily services to Weston and Bristol.  The X7 also provides a daily service between Bristol and Weston via Clevedon and Nailsea. The 135 and the 128 operate a limited service, along Brinsea Road to Nailsea and Clevedon.  One operates on a Thursday, the other on a Friday with one service each day. There are two services accessing Bristol Airport, the A3 from Weston super Mare, which runs hourly and the A5 which has a limited daily service between the airport and Yatton via the A38. These services are available at the time of writing but they are frequently changed or cancelled depending upon usage.

The closest railway station is in Yatton, approximately 2 miles to the north, which can be accessed by road on the B3133 or by cycling or walking on the Strawberry Line.

Congresbury has a network of public footpaths including the ‘Two Rivers Walk’ and the ‘Strawberry Line’.  The Strawberry Line Society (SLS), formerly the Cheddar Valley Railway Walk Society, started in 1978 when North Somerset Council purchased much of the dismantled railway line between Yatton and Axbridge and leased it to the SLS as a walk and nature reserve.  The SLS later became a registered charity and extended the railway path to Cheddar.  The SLS has plans to extend and create a continuous 30 mile traffic-free path from Clevedon to Shepton Mallet which will provide a key section of the Somerset Circle.  When complete the Somerset Circle will connect over 70,000 people across Somerset in a sustainable way.  The Strawberry Line forms part of the (SUStainable TRANSport) SUSTRANS national cycle network.

Policy T1 – Strawberry Line

Any funding from future North Somerset Community Infrastructure Levy, s106 contributions and other sources will be sought for providing safe routes from the village to the Strawberry Line including:

  1. Improvements to the access along Dolemoor Lane from Stonewell Estate and the Causeway and via Silver Street. This could be a simple strip wide enough for 2 cyclists or a cyclist and pedestrian to pass each other.
  2. Removal of the central hatching along the A370 from Moor Bridge to the Old School Rooms and widening of the adjacent footways on both sides of the road to allow for a cycleway combined with the pavement. The combined pavement and cycleway will provide safer access to and from the village for pedestrians and cyclists and also slow and calm traffic along the A370.
  3. An extension to connect the Strawberry Line to Churchill School.

 Justification for Policy T1

As North Somerset's roads become ever more congested and dangerous, the need for traffic-free routes grows ever more important.  Not only would a safe and practical route from the village onto the Strawberry Line facilitate more active lifestyles it would also provide an economical and enjoyable commute to work and link to Yatton railway station.  The current routes to the Strawberry Line are either along the A370, which is a very busy road and considered to be dangerous for all but the most experienced and confident cyclists, or via drove roads from Silver Street or Stonewell.  The drove roads are used by tractors and other agriculture vehicles as well as horse riders.  Over the years the surfaces of the drove roads have developed deep pot holes which make cycling difficult and unsafe.  Improved access would also encourage visitors using the Strawberry Line to cycle in to the village and make use of the local shops, public houses and other amenities.

The removal of the central hatching on the A370 and the addition of a shared pavement and cycle path will provide a safer route for cyclists on the A370 onto the Strawberry Line.  The narrowing of the road will also reduce the speed of traffic and help to calm traffic entering the village.

Providing a link from the Strawberry Line to Churchill School will offer a safe traffic-free route to school and will also encourage pupils to make healthier life choices.

Policy T2 – Parking, Walking and Cycling Solutions

Funding from future North Somerset Community Infrastructure Levy, s106 contributions and other sources will be sought for providing traffic solutions in the village.

These solutions include:

  1. Encourage the installation of electric vehicle charging points within the Parish.
  2. The provision of disabled parking bay(s) in Broad Street and in the precinct car park. It is especially important to have a disabled bay in front of the current pharmacy.
  3. Any new development will be encouraged to have good pedestrian access and provide adequate cycle provision for residents and visitors. Adequate cycling provision must also be provided at all shopping areas, parks and other recreational sites.
  4. The provision of strategically located dropped kerbs is important to allow disabled access to all the village facilities.
  5. Apply short-term parking restrictions to the parking bays in Broad Street to free parking spaces for customers using local shops and services.
  6. Maintaining and wherever possible improving the network of public rights of way within the Parish.

 Justification for Policy T2

Provision of cycle racks would encourage residents to use sustainable means of transport to access village facilities and reduce the current reliance on private cars.

Broad Street currently has 11 marked parking bays with no time restrictions and no marked disabled spaces.  These spaces are generally occupied by cars that have been parked there all day by drivers who either work in the local shops or use public transport to commute to work.  This prevents customers from being able to park close to the shops and service providers.  Of particular importance is a disabled space outside of the pharmacy.

The Precinct car park does not have any marked disabled bays and would benefit from spaces allocated close to the entrance to the shops.

The Parish Council currently leases 7 spaces in the Ship and Castle car park for village use.  Greater use of these spaces should be encouraged.

The provision of electric vehicle charging points encourages the use of electric vehicles which, as a consequence, improves air quality and reduces carbon emissions.

Congresbury has a number of public rights of way within the Parish, including part of the Two Rivers Footpath.  The maintenance of the footpaths, plus replacing stiles with metal gates, will make the paths more accessible for all ages including the less mobile.

Policy T3 – Mitigating Traffic Problems and Enhancing Sustainable Travel

The perception of Congresbury residents is that traffic speeds through the village, the numbers of heavy goods vehicles are excessive making them feel unsafe and worried about environmental aspects.  A series of measures to offset these effects and perceptions are outlined below:

  1. The introduction of village gateway features on all four approaches to Congresbury coupled with a reduction of the speed limits to 30mph would assist in reducing vehicular speeds on all four approaches, with reduced speeds through the village generally having safety and environmental benefits. The village gateways would include additional signage and road markings on the first entry to the village to reinforce the entry to a village environment, and once the speeds through the village are established to be constrained to the 30 mph speed limit.
  2. Apply a 20 mph speed limit on the B3133 from the Ship and Castle to the Settlement Boundary and all residential roads off the A370, and the B3133, including Kent Road, to improve the environment of Congresbury. These residential roads create zones where the priority is on the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. 
  3. They may be usefully reinforced by appropriate traffic calming and speed reducing measures.
  4. Reduce the 50 mph speed limit to 40 mph over the Rhodyate Hill from Congresbury to Cleeve. This is especially important as there is a footpath which crosses the A370 at the top of Rhodyate Hill and would greatly improve the safety of those exiting the Star.
  5. Improvements at the A370 / B3133 junctions at both the Station Road / High Street, and at Smallway to assist the crossing of both junctions by pedestrians. Any improvements should consider improvements in capacity and safety.
  6. Improvements to the B3133 particularly to the south along Brinsea Road to increase footway widths, to provide traffic calming measures to reduce vehicular speeds entering the village along the B3133, and measures to mitigate the impact of HGVs acknowledging that the potential to reduce the number of HGVs may be very limited.
  7. We support the necessary means to improve pedestrian safety on the A370 near the entrance to Moorland Park, which may include a safe pedestrian crossing, reduction of speed limit or a combination of the two. This would not only provide safe access to the bus stop but also to the footpath that runs along the A370 into Congresbury.
  8. Traffic signs can clutter the highway network if used to excess. Traffic sign clutter is unattractive and is a potential distraction to road users; therefore current signage should be audited and excessive and unnecessary signage should be removed and any new signs be sympathetic to the location.

All of the above mitigation and enhancement measures will be subject to investigation & feasibility studies in agreement with North Somerset Council as the Highway Authority.

Justification for Policy T3

An independent survey has been undertaken by a road traffic expert to identify potential solutions see Appendix E.

Brinsea Road is a local distributor which is generally of the order of 5.8m to 6.5m wide along its length with footway provision of variable width and street lighting.  Junctions along Brinsea Road are simple priority junctions that do not have any ghosted right turn provision.  The three junctions at Venus Street, Silver Street, and Yew Tree Park at the southern end of Brinsea Road all have poor visibility.  Venus Street and Silver Street are the worst with restricted visibility in both directions; Yew Tree Park has limited visibility for traffic turning right towards Churchill.  The junctions provide access to residential development on both sides of the road.

Entering the village from the south on the B3133 the road is only 6m wide with grass verges on either side.  There are pavements on both sides of the road just after the 30 mph speed limit road sign.  However they are narrow in places and pedestrians are forced to step into the road.  Pedestrians and cyclists using this section of the road consider it an unsafe route into the village due to passing traffic.

Speed Watch surveys undertaken over a period of time indicate that non-compliance with the speed limit is a significant issue affecting both the B3133, and the A370.  Data collected by Speed Watch along the A370 in the vicinity of Holders of Congresbury indicates that only 26% of vehicles recorded by the surveys were travelling at or below the posted 30mph speed limit with 74% above the speed limit.  Their surveys also identified that the worst time for speeding was between 15:30 to 16:30 which coincides with the afternoon journey from school period when the pedestrian flows along the A370 may be at their highest.  Speed Watch data for the A370 to the west of Kent Road outside Tesco Express showed a similar profile although only covered the morning peak period between 07:30 and 09:00 albeit on a total of 6 occasions.  Similarly only 26% of vehicles were recorded at or below the speed limit.  Speed Watch data is similar for the Brinsea Road / Venus Street location but the peak period of speeding is between 08.00 – 09.00.  Although the speed limit along Brinsea Road within the “ built –up ” area is 30mph, and despite the presence of a speed actuated speed limit sign, there is regular speeding by all types of vehicles.  

(Appendix K contains Speed Watch data).

The traveller’s site has been operating since the early 1990’s and has developed close contact with various groups within the community.  The majority of the children on the site attend the local preschool as well as St Andrew’s Primary School and mothers access courses at the Children’s Centre and the Youth Club.  Older children who do not attend school use the Youth Club on a regular basis as well as the ball court.  A number of the older children are accessing education through vocational courses at Weston College.  To access these activities the travellers are reliant on using private transport or buses travelling along the busy A370.  A light controlled crossing by the entrance to the site would provide a safe way to cross the road to access the bus service from Weston to Congresbury.  Residents on the site regularly walk into the village to use the local shops along the footpath which is on the opposite side of the road to the site entrance.

The number of road signs at and near the A370 and B3133 (Smallway and High Street) junctions is excessive.  The siting of some of the signs is such that the information being made available is too late for drivers to act safely upon.  Many can cause confusion for drivers and are visually intrusive.  The signs are not well maintained, cleaned or cleared of vegetation and some are close to the road and are hit by lorries and buses mounting the pavement to avoid other vehicles.  The best option is to remove those signs that are not required and/or unnecessarily duplicated.