Bridgend on the Move

Draft Local Transport Plan Unveiled

The Welsh Government issued guidance to local authorities earlier this year to prepare local transport plans (LTPs) for 2015-2030. Bridgend’s draft LTP was discussed at the cabinet meeting yesterday (p99-192).

The plans have to support integrated transport and focus on areas with the potential for strong economic growth (as identified in Local Development Plans).

BCBC identify numerous transport projects, some short-term (delivered by 2020), some medium-term (by 2025) and some long-term (by 2030):

Bridgend & Environs

  • Complete a short active travel route between Lewis Avenue and Bridgend town centre.
  • Build an active travel route from Bridgend Designer Outlet to Bridgend town centre alongside the A4061.
  • Improve/upgrade cycle and pedestrian links between Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan, Laleston, Cefn Glas, Pen-y-Fai, Merthyr Mawr and Sarn (via Coity Road).
  • Improved active travel facilities between Broadlands and Bryntirion Comprehensive.
  • Improved active travel facilities along Ewenny Road and the A48 bypass for access to Brynteg Comprehensive.
  • Upgrade Litchard Cross to aid pedestrian and cycle crossing, and make improvements to the Ewenny and Broadlands roundabouts.
  • Adoption of a road between the A48 and A473 (next to the Ford factory) to bypass the Waterton Cross roundabout.
  • Wildmill station park & ride and a new station and park & ride at Brackla (due 2026-2030!).
  • Access to the Parc Afon Ewenni and Island Farm development sites.
  • Creation of an active travel “Brackla Ring Route”, linking Brackla to the industrial estate, Coity and Litchard.
  • Improvements to the Heol Simonston-Coychurch road junction.
  • Providing an active travel route between Bridgend Industrial Estate, Old Brackla and Wildmill (via the disused Coity Sidings railway line).
  • The Bridgend bus-rail interchange linking Brackla Street to Station Hill (again, unlikely this side of 2026).
  • An improvement to the crossing facilities at Quarella Road/A4061 junction (Bus Station).
  • Upgrade to the A473 Park Street junction to minimise tailbacks.
  • A possible third access point to Parc Derwen from the Pen-y-Cae roundabout.

Porthcawl, Pyle & Kenfig Hill
  • Completion of the Wales Coastal Path.
  • Converting an existing roadway to shared cycle/pedestrian use from Rest Bay to Porthcawl Harbour.
  • Expanded park & ride at Pyle station.
  • Create shared-use Bridgend-Porthcawl and Porthcawl-Pyle active travel routes.

Pencoed
  • A shared cycle/pedestrian route linking Pencoed to Bridgend Town Centre alongside the A473, and another route linking Heol-y-Cyw to Pencoed.
  • Replace the Penprysg Road bridge (as a result of rail electrification) to improve traffic flows.
  • Improved active travel facilities from Penprysg to Pencoed railway station and town centre.

The Valleys
  • Improvements to the A4063 between Sarn and Maesteg, in particular Tondu junction.
  • Bus corridor improvements between Bridgend-Blaengarw and Bridgend-Maesteg.
  • Access improvements to allow development off the A4065 in Abergarw.
  • Introduce traffic signals and pedestrian crossing facilities at the junction of Heol Canola and A4061 in Bryncethin (next to Bryncethin Primary School).
  • A new cycle/pedestrian link between Bryngarw Country Park and the existing Garw cycle lane.
  • An improved Maesteg rail-bus interchange and park & ride facilities at Maesteg Ewenny Road station.
  • Active travel routes between Aberkenfig-Maesteg, Caerau-Pontyrhyl and Llangynwyd-Llangeinor.

BCBC are due to launch a public consultation on the plans later this month, with a series of meetings held around the county between November 18th and December 10th. If approved, the final LTP will come into force in April 2015.

Welsh Government loan for Maesteg housing developments
 

A £2.5million loan as part of the Welsh Government’s Central Capital Retained Fund is due to be discussed by both the cabinet (p 197-210) and full council this week, with the council expected to approve the deal.The loan will fund remedial works to kick start the final phase of the Maesteg Washery reclamation scheme which, to date, has only resulted in the construction of the new Maesteg Comprehensive and some environmental improvements.

Remedial works will enable three sites to be marketed for residential development, as there’s little current demand from the private sector to develop such brownfield sites. Those three sites being:

  • The former Maesteg Comprehensive Lower School playing fields on Bridgend Road (38 homes).
  • Maesteg Washery West, to the north of Harvey Street and Lewis Road (66 homes)
  • Maesteg Washery East, next to Crown Road and Belmont Close (32 homes).

The loan itself will need to be repaid within 5 years and is in two tranches; tranch one is £100,000 to carry out feasibility works, and tranch two is £2.4million to carry out any remedial works themselves. Repayments will be made from the sale and lease of the land, and if the money raised is more than the loan outlay, the profit will be shared between BCBC and the Welsh Government.

Judging by the somewhat depressed housebuilding market in the south Wales valleys at the moment, both sides could be taking a risk here.

Maesteg is one of the better off major valleys towns, and already has large numbers of executive homes; but I could only see housing associations being interested in these sites (which will probably lead to more government funding). Private house builders will probably be more interested in the former Budelpack factory.

Bridgend Shopmobility relocation set to be confirmed

Also on the cabinet agenda (p221-215) was the controversial relocation of the Shopmobility service from the Rhiw multi-storey car park to the Cheapside multi-storey car park (next to Asda).

The report confirms the Rhiw multi-storey is going to be demolished and rebuilt as part of the Vibrant & Viable Placesscheme – though no details of what else is going to go there have been revealed yet.

BCBC were presented with three options:

 

  • Option 1: Temporarily suspend Shopmobility services and build the Shopmobility service into the new Rhiw car park development. However, this option would’ve put the service out of action for several months, inconveniencing users, so it was rejected.
  • Option 2: Build a temporary facility elsewhere in the town centre then move the service back to the Rhiw car park after it’s rebuilt. There were concerns this would cause confusion, and it would also cost £50,000 (I’m unsure if this is the cost of the temporary facility alone).
  • Option 3: Relocate the service permanently to an alternative car park. This is the option BCBC have opted for as it would “ensure continuity of service” and be more cost-effective in the long-term, costing £75,000.

The Cheapside multi-storey is around 5 minutes further away from the town centre by mobility scooter compared with the Rhiw car park. It also means having to negotiate Brackla Street (which can be busy) and taking an alternative route into the town centre – I doubt many Shopmobility users will be tempted to go down the Rhiw itself!

63% of respondents to a BCBC survey would accept an extra 5 minutes travelling time. However, most people who use the service use it to access the Post Office and Rhiw Shopping Centre – which are much easier to get too from the Rhiw car park than Cheapside.

The surface car park on Brackla Street was also considered to host the facility, but it’s open to the elements and a Shopmobility service would take up too much space.

The current service is part-funded by Bridgend Town Council, who have criticised the plans, with town mayor, Cllr. Bob Burns (Ind, Oldcastle) quoted as calling the decision “crazy”.

Those Cylon Lights” in Brackla….

If you’ve driven or walked through Brackla recently, you’ll have noticed that new lights have been installed along Brackla Way showing a single, very bright (some might say annoying) green LED.

This isn’t some sort of weird Christmas decoration. Brackla Way is one of the worst roads for speeding in Bridgend despite having two primary schools along its length.

So some of you – if you were being naughty – will have also noticed the light turn red and show “30” if you’re driving above the speed limit when approaching them. From what I’ve seen so far it appears to be working, but I would start being concerned about drivers braking suddenly, as I saw it happen a few times – usually van drivers.

The lights were installed by Brackla Community Council as an alternative to speed bumps. That’s because several years ago, BCBC installed traffic-calming “build outs” along Brackla Way which proved so unpopular they were ripped out. The speeding problem never went way, though.

It’s also a very different approach to the one taken on Church Acre where, in the last few years, a 20mph speed limit has been imposed and awkwardly-shaped speed humps built.

It could be worth watching to see how successful this scheme is because I’d imagine other communities in the county with schools on busy roads might want to install similar lights.

Bridgend Labour votes to merge with Vale

It’s been coming for a while, but it’s finally confirmed my own, and most people’s, suspicions.

News broke yesterday that Bridgend’s ruling Labour group have voted in favour of merger talks with the Vale of Glamorgan. The decision is due to be put to full council on November 24th, but as Labour have such a large majority it’s nothing more than a formality.

Simultaneously, the leader of Vale of Glamorgan Council, Neil Moore, also announced that his authority would prefer a merger with Bridgend instead of Cardiff.

Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan already co-operate to provide certain local services, and as I mentioned last month, that could soon be expanded.

This will cause the Welsh Government headaches, and could be the start of the local government reorganisation falling apart.

The Williams Commission report explicitly states that merged local authority shouldn’t span local health board boundaries (Bridgend is in Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, while Vale of Glamorgan is in Cardiff & Vale) or the EU’s NUTS2 regions (Bridgend – West Wales & Valleys; Vale – East Wales) and there are important administrative and financial implications.

Bridgend was earmarked to merge with Neath Port Talbot (NPT) – a similarly post-industrial, strongly Labour local authority.

However, Bridgend is a Cardiff-leaning authority in cultural and economic terms and rarely, if ever, looks westwards except on matters of health. The thought of the political centre of gravity shifting towards Neath (NPT is about twice the size of Bridgend physically but has a similar population) probably doesn’t look too appetising to Bridgend councillors.

Similarly, a largely rural local authority like the Vale probably wouldn’t be too keen to merge with a pseudo-metropolitan council like Cardiff, and would fear being subsumed.

A Bridgend-Vale merger would have two similarly-sized “poles” at either end in Bridgend and Barry, and would contain several towns of a similar size like Pencoed, Maesteg, Penarth, Llantwit Major, Cowbridge and Porthcawl.

There’ll presumably be more details on this forthcoming, and I’ll probably return to this later this month.

 

Owen