Filton town council asked to donate land for free to expand road
Filton town council have been asked to donate an amount of land at Elm park to South Gloucestershire council for roundabout and road improvements.
In a letter to the council, Mark Shearman, principal engineer for transport services, says they want 317 square metres of extra land to widen the Filton A4174 ring road, as part of the Southmead 106 funding project, which it asks Filton council to donate free of charge. The move would see the amount of land taken from Elm Park playing fields, reducing the size removing trees, pathway and shrubbery in the process.
Mr Shearman says in the letter "We are acutely aware of the impact to tree and shrubs and would endeavour to replace these with landscaping where possible" South Gloucestershire council offer no payment to Filton council for the land and say that budgets are limited but they want to carry out the improvement in time for the opening of the new Southmead hospital in 2014.
In addition to the road changes the council say they want to improve facilities for cyclists with pathways but they have a limited budget and are under a timescale pressure
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At a full meeting of Filton council last week councillors and residents reacted passionately about the request. Rikki Teml, Conservative councillor said he was elected to ensure Elm Park was protected for generations to enjoy and he was totally opposed to handing over land for free for such purposes. He went on to say that he would happily stand in front of anyone trying to bulldoze the fields. Chair of Finance, councillor Bill Moore echoed the sentiments of Mr Teml supporting his comments.
Filton councillors also commented that traffic congestion in Filton is already at breaking point, with badly planned lane markings causing near accidents. They were also of the opinion that the over saturation of bus lanes had brought nothing but traffic confestion due to the reduction in normal roads, hence forcing this request.
Residents were furious saying that after the threat of the dumping of thousands of tonnes of landfill soil on the fields in 2010 which was stopped and selling of land for flats, the last thing they want to do is handover land to be taken over by road expansion and bring more pollution.
A Filton independent party spokesperson commented "This is an utter disgrace that South Glos council have the ordasity to write to small parish council, pressuring them to hand over land that it protects for the enjoyment of residents and users. It smacks of big brother type tactics and Filton people are fed up with bad planning. They have clearly planned for the future badly. Just on the roundabout in question, a brand new development of flats is near completion which will also add to the the congestion".
Only last year South Glos council demolished a bridge situated at the roundabout in Filton and replaced pathways and fencing which they now want to dig up.
Councillor Bill Moore said he had spoken to the planning department suggesting a cycle path could cut through Elm Park field and was told this hadn't been considered as an option. Mr Moore is also currently involved in a project in creating a community garden near to the area in question.
Conservative councillor Keiran Hyde said he had studied the request and he felt that the road could include a filter lane without encroaching on Elm park fields because the pavements are so wide.
South Glos Filton councillor Roger Hutchinson, Labour spokesperson for
planning and transport, attended the meeting however did not comment on
the request from South Glos.
Filton council concluded that the request from South Glos council was ill thought out and they voted all but one to reject the request completely. They agreed to invite Mr Shearman to a future council meeting to discuss the request with residents and councillors present.