Meeting documents

Transportation Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 20th October, 1998

Bath & North East Somerset Council



Transportation Sub-Committee






20 October 1998



Keith Marsh, Bath Area Traffic Engineer


E Delaine, Head of Engineering Services


Prohibition of Driving Order, Royal Crescent, Bath



BACKGROUND PAPERS: 1 Bath & North East Somerset District Council

(Royal Crescent, Bath)

(Prohibition of Driving) Order 199

2 Report to Transportation Sub-Committee dated 18 April 1997

3 Letter from J E Coyne Esq., Inspector, dated 16 July 1998



1.1 This report summarises the recommendations by the Inspector J E Coyne following the Public Local Inquiry 1 to 5 June 1998 and invites the Sub-Committee to make a decision in respect of the B&NES (Royal Crescent, Bath) (Prohibition of Driving) Order 199.


2.1 That the Sub-Committee resolve that the Head of Engineering Services be authorised to seal the Bath and North East Somerset Council (Royal Crescent, Bath) (Prohibition of Driving) Order 199 and take all necessary action to introduce the same.

3. RESOURCE AND CORPORATE POLICY IMPLICATIONS (Where necessary, the views of the Council's Statutory Officers are reflected in the comments below)

3.1 Financial: Cost of design and implementation of physical road closure estimated provisionally at £25,000.

3.2 Staffing: No implications.

3.3 Equalities: Tourists will no longer be able to view Royal Crescent from the open-top bus services which currently travel through the Crescent. People with mobility handicaps could be disadvantaged.

3.4 Economic: Royal Crescent is a major tourist attraction and the number of passengers using the open-top bus services is significant. It has not been possible to quantify any potential loss of income to the economy of Bath.

3.5 Environment: In the event of confirmation of the proposed Order, the quality of life for residents of Royal Crescent will be improved. The removal of extraneous traffic will enhance the environment of this unique Crescent. The impact on the environment and quality of life for those who live in possible alternative traffic routes is addressed elsewhere.


4.1 On 22 July 1996 this Sub-Committee authorised the public advertisement of a draft Traffic Regulation Order to prohibit motor vehicles entering, proceeding or waiting in Royal Crescent, Bath subject to a number of exemptions.

4.2 The draft Order was advertised in November 1996 and attracted objections and representations which were reported to the Sub-Committee on 18 April 1997. As there were objections from operators of local bus services, the Sub-Committee resolved to convene a Public Inquiry.

4.3 This Inquiry took place on 1 - 5 June 1998, at the Guildhall, Bath. The Inspector has considered the evidence both for and against the draft Order and it now lies with the Council to decide whether to proceed with the sealing of the draft Order - thereby making it operative or to abandon the draft Order or to modify the draft Order - for example, by applying it solely to open-top tour buses.

4.4 Before deciding what action to take, the Council is obliged to consider all objections duly made (and not withdrawn) and also the report and recommendations of the Inspector. Accordingly, whilst the Sub-Committee has already considered the representations and objections in April last year - it is obliged to do the same at this stage also before it makes its final decision.

4.5 The Objections - Members are referred to Appendix 1 which sets out summaries of the various objections received. Of the 31 letters received, three were from separate bus/coach operators. The remainder were from concerned residents and associations. Each letter has been analysed carefully for the purpose of this report and it is clear that there are several main justified causes for concern that need to be considered before the decision to physically close the Royal Crescent can be made.

The following is a brief summary of the objections received, grouped by principal topic.

1 Migration

There is a common concern that the closure would not alleviate, but simply shift the problems caused by open-top tour buses from the Royal Crescent to areas already experiencing those same problems and exacerbate the situation.

Officer Comment: It is recognised that traffic may divert onto Upper Church Street, Crescent Lane, Julian Road and the length of Marlborough Buildings, north of Royal Crescent. Unfortunately the Council has no power to dictate which route Open-top Tour Buses should use alternatively.

2 Road Safety

The alternative routes for vehicles would certainly include the Julian Road/Marlborough Buildings junction. This junction has notoriously bad sightlines and minimal visibility when emerging from the minor arm. This, combined with the fact that there are no pedestrian facilities, has historically been the subject of much local concern and it is felt that the danger to pedestrians (especially child pedestrians attending the six schools in the locality) would increase if open-top tour buses and other vehicles transferred to this route.

Officer Comment: It is impossible to predict perceived danger to pedestrians but it could rise. There had been one accident at the Marlborough Buildings/Weston Road/Cavendish Road/Julian Road junction in the period up to 1997 and increased traffic flows may increase the risk of further accidents.

3 Traffic Speed

It is feared that the closure of the Royal Crescent and removal of its junction with Marlborough Buildings would remove the need for motorists to take caution when approaching this area. As motorists will not be slowed by the existing turning manoeuvres, speeds may well naturally increase.

Officer Comment: This would probably be negligible and undetectable.

4 Congestion

At present Marlborough Lane/Buildings carries approximately 3000 vehicles per 12 hour day and serves as one of the main access routes to Victoria Park and Charlotte Street Car Park (B&NES Council's largest). Traffic is uncontrolled at its junctions with both Julian Road and the A4 Upper Bristol Road. Both of these junctions regularly suffer long tailbacks and it is feared by residents that the addition of traffic diverted from the Royal Crescent will bring about further congestion with the inherent problems of heavy vehicles and open-top tour buses trying to travel up the hill. This could generate more noise, vibration and pollution as a result and reduce the ability to access/egress the car park.

Officer Comment: This could be reduced by improvements e.g. signals at both junctions.

5. Consultation Procedure

In April 1997, one suggestion was that a restriction on all PSVs or a length restriction would be more appropriate.

Officer Comment: A proposal to prohibit PSVs in excess of 8.3 metres was advertised by Avon County Council in 1991. It was following consideration of the objections received at that time that the current prohibition was suggested.

The Chief Constable indicated that he would be unable to support the proposal.

Officer Comment: the Chief Constable was unaware that it is intended that the closure at the western end would be a physical closure and that enforcement would not be dependant on his staff.

It was felt by many residents that they had not been properly consulted during the whole process and that certain views by non-supporters had not been considered.

Officer Comment: All the requisite statutory consultation procedures have been adhered to.


4.7.1 A full copy of The Inspector's Report is available in Democratic Services and Member's Rooms with his conclusions as Appendix 2 to this report. The Inquiry was held for the purpose of hearing objections and representation in connection with the proposed Order. The Report outlined the general effect of the Order - if made as well as the exceptions. The Inspector described the Royal Crescent and the surrounding area - including Marlborough Buildings, Marlborough Lane, Crescent Lane, Upper Church Street, Brock Street and the Circus, Bath.

4.7.2 The Inspector sets out the cases for the respective parties at the Inquiry in his report.

- The Case for the Council - this includes the background to the proposed Order involving the reports to this Council and its predecessors relating to complaints from residents about traffic especially large vehicles, congestion, noise, visual intrusion, fumes, loss of privacy and damage to the fabric of the Crescent from vibration. The growing problem of open-top tour buses is considered - including the voluntary agreement of 1993. as is the condition of the Royal Crescent carriageway, the historical and environmental significance of the Royal Crescent and the possible impact of the proposed Order on traffic.

- The case for the supporters is set out - namely that of the Royal Crescent Society, the Bath Preservation Trust, the Bath Society, the Federation of Bath Residents' Associations, the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK , and various local residents.

- The Inspector then considers the cases of the objections, namely the Bristol Omnibus Co. Limited and Guide Friday Limited. The case for the Circus Area Residents Association and Friends of the Circus as well as the Marlborough Lane and Buildings Residents Association.

- The case from Mr J Doran, a local resident and also local residents' objections are considered.

- The Case for South West Transport Network is considered.

4.7.3 It should be emphasised that the Inspector holding the Inquiry (Mr J E Coyne) was not given jurisdiction to make a decision for the Council. The jurisdiction still lies with Bath & North East Somerset Council Members to make a decision.

4.7.4 The inquiry's remit was only to deal with the Royal Crescent Traffic Regulation Order. The Inspector's Report however does accept that the amount of open-top tour buses traffic is unacceptable in the narrow Georgian streets in Bath and that "the likely consequences for the operators, tourists and for those areas adjoining the Royal Crescent must be addressed". The consequences for wider areas still depend on what new routes the bus operators choose to take. The Inspector's report states that a route to the North "would cause serious environmental damage to Upper Church Street" and "could create chaotic conditions along Julian Road/Marlborough Buildings". Brock Street/Upper Church Street is mentioned again as Mr Coyne predicts that "sightseeing" traffic is likely to increase and that the 600 vehicles per day that at present access and service the Royal Crescent will all need to arrive and depart at the eastern end, potentially doubling this existing figure.

4.7.5 Mr Coyne in conclusion states that the Royal Crescent is such a special case of outstanding importance that the proposed Order should be implemented even though there is uncertainty about the impact elsewhere.


4.8.1 Mr Coyne is clearly satisfied (see Appendix 2) that the statutory grounds for making the Traffic Regulation Order are made out. He reached his conclusions further to detailed consideration of the Council's and the supporters' and objectors' cases. Accordingly he recommended the Order be made as proposed.

4.8.2 Objectors have expressed the view that the total closure of any road to all traffic should not be the correct way to deal with one type of user and that specific restrictions should be sought and implemented wherever that situation arises. Mr Coyne does state at para. 18.8 "that in terms of policy and enforcement, an Order prohibiting Open-top tour buses only would have presented the least problems and I cannot see why there should be any difficulties in making an Order which prohibits Open-top tour buses, defined by weight, size and description".

4.8.3 However, Mr Coyne also states at para. 18.8 that "although there is no doubt that the Open-top tour buses are the main cause of environmental damage in Royal Crescent all vehicles make a contribution and all tend to detract from its character and amenities". The view is taken, therefore, that the case for confirming the Order as presently drafted (i.e. without modification) is still made out.

4.8.4 In addition, the Sub-Committee must when exercising its' powers be aware the Council is under a duty to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic (including pedestrians) and the provision of suitable and adequate parking facilities on and off the highway as specified in Section 122 of the Road Traffic Act 1984. As can be seen in paras 18.12 (p.24) of the Inspector's Report, however, the Inspector states that he is satisfied that the Council has had regard to such matters.

4.8.5 The Inspector states at para. 18.10 "I consider Royal Crescent to be such a special case that the proposed Order should be implemented even though there is uncertainty about the impact elsewhere. However it would be unwise to pursue any further traffic restrictions in this congested and sensitive area of the City without a more detailed assessment of the likely effects. it seems to me this calls for a far more comprehensive traffic survey than was available for the Order now proposed".

4.8.6 Members are, therefore, recommended to resolve in the terms set out at para. 2 above.


5.1 This report has not been sent to Trades Unions because there are no staffing implications.



· Tour buses should be stopped not the road closed.

· Requests a variation to the working of the proposed Traffic Regulation Order to include an exemption for Ambulances.

· Extra traffic onto already heavily trafficked alternative routes with consequent environmental damage, especially Marlborough Buildings.

· Piece meal attempt to satisfy Royal Crescent residents that takes no account of other problems in the area - may be inappropriate when problems in whole area are considered.

· Would lead to increased flows in Marlborough Buildings north of Royal Crescent and increased speeds due to removal of junction.

· Would shift open-top bus problem to roads with similar environmental sensitivities.

· Would lead to increased road safety risks at Marlborough Buildings/Julian Road/Cavendish Road/Weston Road junctions.

· Proper solution is control of open-top buses.

· No traffic counts have been undertaken therefore the effects of the scheme cannot be properly assessed.

· Previous objections dated 7 May 1997 were not considered by Transportation Sub-Committee on 22July 1997.

· There was no consultation with the Association before the proposal was finalised.

· A comprehensive traffic management study of the area bounded by A4, Lansdown Road, Julian Road and Marlborough Lane/Buildings should be undertaken.

· Would result in increased flows and speeds in Marlborough Buildings.

· Comprehensive plan for area required.

· Suggest restrictions on Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) in Royal Crescent.

· Quick fix solution taking no account of existing traffic problems in the area.

· Would increase risks at the junction of Marlborough Buildings/Julian Road, etc.

· In depth traffic survey for area required.

· No consultation before proposal was finalised.

· Closure of Royal Crescent inappropriate means of dealing with open-top buses.

· Suggest total PSV ban or length ban as used in Exeter.

· Minister of Transport should be approached.

· Southern thirds of Marlborough Buildings also suggest the same problems as Royal Crescent - Marlborough Buildings Residents Association offered to co-operate with the Royal Crescent.

· The Authority is not being impartial.

· Suggests area wide study and proper consultation.

· Closure in Royal Crescent should be sited to allow timing movements in Marlborough Buildings.

· Would increase congestion, pollution and accident risk.

· Problems in whole area should be addressed rather than bowing to wishes of Royal Crescent.

· Writing as Chairman of the Catherine Place Association. Support but concerned that Catherine Place may become a through route and requests further Traffic Regulation Orders.

· Not all views represented by the Royal Crescent Society.

· Unfair to treat the Royal Crescent as a special case.

· Only buses need to be stopped.

· Increased traffic in Upper Church Street, Brock Street and Circus.

· Increased accident risk at Marlborough Buildings/Julian Road, etc., junction.

· Existing double parking likely to increase.

· Would create more problems in surrounding roads than it would cure.

· Similar concerns to those expressed by the Residents Association.

· Lack of consultation - suggest that some Associations are "more equal than others".

· Would have serious knock-on effects particularly increased risk to child pedestrians (a) associated with the six schools and nurseries in the area, and (b) visiting Royal Victoria Park. There are no pedestrian facilities in the area.

· Open-top buses likely to transfer to Marlborough Buildings merely transferring problems.

· Volume of traffic including tourist buses in Marlborough Buildings would increase with loss of amenity.

· Increased risk at Marlborough Buildings/Julian Road junction for both pedestrians and vehicles.

· Card Parking places in Royal Crescent would no longer be available.

· Area wide scheme needed (to include Residents Parking).

· Written in strong support of letters 6 and 11 and asks for proposal to be shelved to allow "proper consultation".

· Lack of consultation - serious traffic problems will result particularly at the Marlborough Buildings/Julian Road junction.

· Comprehensive review of problems needed.

· Would result in worsening conditions in Marlborough Buildings and Royal Avenue.

· Quick fix solution that benefits Royal Crescent only.

· Wider consideration should be given to the amelioration of traffic effects on listed buildings.

· Area wide strategy and traffic proposals required.

· Closure is against John Wood's original design principle.

· Directed traffic will cause difficulties.

· Will preclude the passage or registered local bus services.

· Marlborough Lane already heavily trafficked - proposed will worsen the situation.