As businesses count down the days to the opening of the new South Bristol Ring Road, commercial property specialists at Bruton Knowles are hoping that the forthcoming Metro Mayor will maintain the momentum by pressing ahead with further improvements to link the new route to the Avon Ring Road, and back into the city centre.
Paul Williams, Head of Agency at Bruton Knowles in Bristol said: “Ask any managing director what issues are key to the success of their business in 2016 and they are sure to mention connectivity – whether it is the ability to transfer data quickly and effectively via the information super-highway, or the ability to move people and goods around via the good old normal highway.
“In these times of high employment, even the ability to recruit and retain the right personnel is affected by considerations such as how quickly and easily staff members can get to and from their place of work.
“With this in mind it’s been pleasing to see the steps being made to improve transport connections to and from Bristol city centre and the wider area. Traffic congestion and delays cost businesses millions of pounds every year, and accessibility - or lack of it - plays a key role in the decision making process, meaning that in the past South Bristol was often overlooked as a business location in favour of other, better connected parts of the city.
Ensuring South Bristol is as well connected to the main road network as North Bristol has to be near the top of the new Metro Mayor’s “To Do” list.
“With the new South Bristol Link Road approaching completion it is important we don’t lose momentum – and with this in mind, Bristol City Council’s recent decision to abandon plans to lobby the Department of Transport for the ‘missing link’ between the end of the new road and the A4 Bath Road at Hicks Gate has disappointed many business operators and commuters – and it could prove disastrous if the city does not identify a convincing alternative scheme soon.
“Whilst Council Cabinet members are understandably in favour of ‘more sustainable’ transport options – including a Callington Road Link and a mooted possible rapid transit system on the A4, it is difficult to see how this will work effectively for business operators. As things stand, all east-bound traffic will still need to negotiate the notorious Brislington Hill junction on the A4 – still a mile short of the Hicks Gate roundabout. This puts pressure on nearby residential roads as drivers seek rat-runs to avoid the hold-ups.
“So everybody in South Bristol with an interest in this matter will be waiting to see how the authorities propose to draw these two critical routes together.
“And of course this is exactly the sort of infrastructure issue the new Devolved or Metro Mayor will have to grapple with – especially given the knock on effect in the neighbouring partner authorities of BaNES and South Gloucestershire.
“The present standoff is much the same situation as motorists faced back in the 1990s when the Avon Ring Road only went as far as the Shortwood roundabout – leaving the section to the A420 at Warmley to be completed. This meant motorists had to divert traffic through Mangotsfield and Siston before rejoining the ring road a mile or so away.
“Given today’s traffic levels on the Avon Ring Road, it would be inconceivable to think of it with that key section missing – and it’s difficult to work out why the same logic isn’t being applied in Brislington.
“If commercial property values on the southern side of the city are ever going to be brought up to a similar level as those on the northern side then a proper, fully functioning route in both directions is an essential ingredient in the mix.
“While we recognise that there are legitimate concerns over exactly where a new ‘missing link’ could go, it seems that Bristol may have dropped the ball again in missing a potential opportunity to join the dots and give the entire city a true ring road worthy of the name.”