Sunday, 2 November 2008

From Park to Parking

The mass of Bristol City Council emails released last week following a Freedom of Information request includes many insights into how a section of the Bristol & Bath Railway Path came to be promised to Squarepeg against the initial advice of officers following the personal intervention of George Ferguson.

An internal email to the Strategic Director of City Development, David Bishop, dated 26th June, reveals that at the time Squarepeg had two development plans, one including the city council owned land that they coveted and another excluding it, in case they didn't get their way. A Portfolio Management Officer in the Valuation Practice of the Council emailed as follows-

I'm dealing with the possible disposal of land along the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path to Squarepeg. I am aware that you wanted to go over the proposals that Squarepeg had for the strip of BCC land within their developments prior to making any final decision on the disposal.

The attached plans show their proposals both with and without the BCC land, you'll see that without the land they will lose 25 parking spaces, part of the block of flats marked B, and a large access directly onto the cycle path.

It seems that the main difference that having the Railway Path land made at the time of the decision was that they could accommodate 25 more parking places (accounting for perhaps 250 square metres)! By comparison the land take for part of the block of flats would have been very small (20 square metres?) and the access steps from the Railway Path must be considered of dubious value for access from a path mainly used by cyclists (but more on that later).

So in essence the decision to sell part of the Railway Path green corridor appears to have been made to accommodate extra car parking! I wonder how those who support the Squarepeg plans feel about that?


thebristolblogger said...

There's also talk in the emails of routing the cycle path through the Easton Allotments to the south of the Chocolate Factory site to allow room for George's path-side cycle palaces, their green front gardens and 11m clearance for the still-on-the-table BRT route.

DonaQixota said...

This had me puzzled. What about the cycle houses? I thought that they needed the land specifically for them?

DonaQixota said...

"and 11m clearance for the still-on-the-table BRT route."

So those (like some in the StRP) trusting that going along with cycle houses will save them from BRT should think again.

thebristolblogger said...

Yes. The documents clearly show that Matthew Cockburn, Transport Development Control Manager for Bristol City Council is still working directly on planning a BRT route on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.

(The documents revealing this are emails from Cockburn contained mainly in the April, May and June bundles)

It's also clear from what Cockburn says that the cycle houses will have no impact on whether a BRT scheme goes ahead.

Instead the land lost to provide George Ferguson with an extra 25 parking spaces will be taken, if required for BRT, from BCC allotment land.

SO that's more even more public land under threat!

I assume no allotment holders or allotment officers at BCC have been consulted about this though.

Presumably there's no need as apparently Ferguson and Bishop can do what they like in this city now.