New sites proposed for east of Bath park and ride
A new list of possible locations for a park and ride site to the east of Bath has been drawn up.
The suggestions have been discussed with parish councillors in the latest twist in the decades-long search for the right location.
The Liberal Democrat regime on Bath and North East Somerset Council abandoned plans for a facility at Bathampton Meadows when it took power last year, and has since been exploring the concept of a new railway station close to the village.
But officials have also been looking at conventional bus park and ride options and have once again listed the Charmy Down former military airfield, and two plots on either side of Mill Lane in the area of the meadows, including the site which was rejected by the Lib Dems when they came into power in 2011.
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The Bathampton station park and rail idea remains on the list, along with sites close to the roundabout at the Bath end of the Batheaston Bypass, at Bathford and on the A4 between Batheaston and Shockerwick.
Council transport cabinet member Councillor Roger Symonds (Lib Dem, Combe Down) said the process was a sensitive one: “As soon as you identify a site, it can set a lot of hares running.”
He said the authority was about to appoint consultants to look at the issue further, and parish councillors have been told there will eventually be a shortlist of three.
Councillor Geoff Ward (Con, Bathavon North) said he was annoyed that he and fellow ward councillors Martin Veal and Gabriel Batt had to gatecrash the meeting with the parish councils to discuss the shortlist because they had not been invited.
He said it was going to be difficult to choose a suitable park and ride site, but that something needed to be done to tackle the city’s traffic problems.
Chair of Bathampton Parish Council Tony McCann, who was one of the people invited to the meeting, said he was disappointed to see the Bathampton Meadows site on the list once again, despite them having “fought tooth and nail” against it in the past.
He said he had Mr Symonds on record saying that B&NES Council would not build a park and ride there and added that he did not believe any of the sites in the valley were suitable for a 1,600-space car park.
“It makes a mess of the valley,” he said. “It is an environmental disaster. This is supposed to be the green and pleasant surroundings of the World Heritage city, not a car park with buses and heaven knows what.”
Vito Pecchia, chair of Batheaston Parish Council, was also at the meeting and said his council had not yet had an opportunity to discuss the list but was reserving judgement until the shortlist of three had been announced.
However, he added that he believed he spoke for the people of Batheaston, Bathampton and Bathford, when he said the expansion of Lansdown Park and Ride would be the fairest way of dealing with any increased traffic from the north.
A spokesman for B&NES Council said the original Bathampton Meadows site, which was part of the wider Bath Transport Package, was only on the list as a technicality.
He said: “The cabinet has no intention of putting forward the original Bath Package site. The only purpose of the inclusion of this site is to help guide the technical work being carried out on the others.
“At the same time, technical work is also being carried out on the viability of a Park & Rail site which would require the use Bathampton railway station.
“The results of both pieces of work will be considered by the cabinet in the New Year.
“The cabinet is actively considering the original Bath Package site to be included as part of a flood alleviation scheme.”