Brackla Station News & Tondu Expansion

After yesterday’s look at the pedestrianisation report, there are two significant planning-related stories out of Bridgend over the last few days worth touching on.

Brackla Station Plans Unveiled (….with a catch)

Subject to planning permission, work could start soon on a proposed railway station and park and ride at Brackla in Bridgend after a 15 year delay.

Bridgend Council (BCBC) submitted their own planning application (here) in the last few days which is the first official move made to get the project off the ground. The park and ride will have at least 29 parking spaces, while a footbridge will be provided to link Brackla and its active travel routes to Bridgend Industrial Estate. A bus-rail interchange would also be provided.

But there’s a big, very important, catch….

….there’s not going to be a railway station – not yet, anyway – while it doesn’t look as though either the bus stops or the footbridge will be built immediately either.

BCBC describe this as the “first phase” of the station development. While a Brackla station was included as part of the South Wales Metro and has been discussed for almost two decades, I’m going to assume there are still rail capacity and timing issues that make the inclusion of a station at Brackla very difficult for Network Rail.

So in the absence of any nearby bus stops, for the first few years the car park will be a park and ride without the ride bit.

“Brackla park and.”

That’s not to say this isn’t welcome news, but it still needs the footbridge as that would, by itself, provide a useful link between Brackla (and the north eastern parts of Bridgend) and the major employment sites to the south of the town. This would hopefully encourage workers to walk or cycle when the weather’s fine and would reduce strain on roads like Heol Simonston and Coychurch Road.

By just being a car park with no access to the industrial estate and no bus interchange facility planned straight away, you have to ask what the point of this first phase is?

Proposed Expansion of Tondu Outlined

The other major thing to note is an outline plan to significantly expand the village of Tondu (here) – further emphasising what I’ve said recently about the Sarn-Tondu-Bryncethin area becoming a sizable settlement in its own right.

The plans include:

  • 450 homes
  • 10,000 sqft of offices (at a later stage of development)
  • A mini-bypass of A4063 Maesteg Road

The scheme would, in effect, be a second phase of the Pentre Felin development.

The development could prove controversial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s very close to the Parc Slip nature reserve. The houses themselves would be build on scrub land not in the park itself, but it would inevitably cause a disturbance.

Secondly, the development is very close to some key industrial heritage sites, in particular a former tramway, Tondu ironworks as well as a scheduled ancient monument. Again, the development wouldn’t encroach on any of the sites, but could cause disturbances.

The biggest issue facing potential developers would be the road network. As mentioned, the outline plans would see a bypass built connecting Maesteg Road to the roundabout near Lidl – a key request from BCBC.

The junction at the railway bridge is already quite difficult to navigate sometimes. The mini-bypass would partly remove a pinch point on the road network by forcing traffic to and from Maesteg, Coytrahen etc. to use the roundabout, as well as giving queues at the traffic lights extra space. However, the initial plans for the mini-bypass show it curring cut through woodland and crossing over/through the Celtic Trail cycle route.