Latest CAZ news is mostly positive for Camden and North East Bath
We are most fortunate to have a close relationship with the project team and have followed up our December meeting with another one last week. They have agreed the following answers to our questions.
Overall it is pretty positive other than the prospect of not getting a meaningful P&R facility on the east of Bath which the diagram above shows leaves a massive gap in the protection of the environment of Bath.
1 Reason for delay from 18th December till a special cabinet meeting on 5th March?
- There was a large, late and unexpected volume of responses (expecting 6000-7000 responses and got 8500) and some of which are very technical and long (e.g. 65pp).
- The project schedule left not enough time to assimilate and reflect – greater response than estimated.
- If you want to see what happened, blow by blow, on 18th December you can watch this here.
- A decision would probably have been conditional on more confirmatory work anyway.
2 Will a real decision be made on 5th March?
- All the outputs and reports from the project team will be ready for due consideration.
- In the meantime, the confirmatory work is being done so a decision could be final, in which case there would not be a significant effect on the intended implementation date of 12/20.
- Main consultation report 250pp at the moment, so there is a lot of information to assess and consider.
3 What has the consultation found out?
- Fair, balanced response.
- People want air quality improvement but with support to upgrade…
- …which the project team are working on hard with extra bids to JAQU (Joint Air Quality Unit –DEFRA and DoT) for each support package.
4 Other pointers on the CAZ?
- The CAZ boundary is likely to change a little – my guess is in the eastern quarter (Pulteney and Bathwick Estates) will get included.
- ‘Boundary effects’, as raised by us (see here, for example) – this is getting responded to, and applied to other bits of Bath too, which is heartening.
- CAZ is still likely to include non-compliant cars (‘Class D’), even if the arguments for it are not that easy to explain (The ’80:20 Rule’ is quite helpful here – in many situations the last 20% takes 80% of the effort. In terms of the CAZ, getting under the legal NOx level (<40mgm-3) gets harder as you approach it.
- CAZ signage will not be simply adding to the existing street clutter as there will be a decluttering exercise too.
- I’m suggesting a branding exercise which is informative to visitors not expecting/used to a CAZ regime which the team has in hand.
- There is going to be monitoring started ahead of going fully live so the project will know if they are on track to get NOx levels down according to the binding High Court Direction which is a clever and sensible approach.
5 Camden and NE Bath concerns
- The Eastern P&R, in my view, is essential to reduce traffic levels through NE Bath into the city centre from M4, A4, A363. No significant progress on this:
- Maybe some small local hubs towards Box.
- No serious re-consideration of Charmy Down site which is only a four minutes up the A46 from Batheaston.
- One carriageway of the Batheaston bypass under review as P&R but because it belongs to Highways England – another agency, separate from B&NES – it has challenges.
- Journey to Lansdown P&R from M4
- Signage to be significantly increased compared to the current plans which is good news, especially as this will involve variable electronic signage so that its messaging can be adapted if it is not working as expected.
- Freezing Hill Lane / A420 junction improvements in progress.
- We are getting our point across that signage, pre and post the A420 junction with the A46 has got to provide meaningful warnings to drivers of the CAZ further down the road…
- …without an Eastern P&R it will be a very troublesome outcome for drivers with chargeable vehicles.
6 P&Rs more generally?
- There is agreement between us that these should become the ‘alternative of choice’ for people visiting Bath, irrespective of whether they are in lower NOx emitting cars or not.
- The plan is for the existing fare/payment structure to be reviewed. Paying to parking (instead of riding) will be looked at but it does have issues (parking is VATable; riding is not). Other options are therefore being explored that retain the existing concept of paying for riding but encourage usage. I agree with this but there is more work to do. There are two variables to consider when trying to encourage the right behaviours – party size and length of stay; i.e.:
- How do you encourage commuters, perhaps driving on their own or with one other or having dropped off kids, to park all day at a chargeable P&R?
- How little do you have to charge a family coming to do their shopping for a couple of hours to deter them from parking in the city?