B&NES Council approves Wessex Water planning application – inc. new bridge over the River Avon - Saltford Parish Council

At its June meeting, Saltford Parish Council voted to support Wessex Water’s application (Reference number 21/02322/FUL) when consulted by B&NES Council. Please see our ‘SPC responds to Wessex Water planning application’ news article, which includes a full copy of SPC’s response.

Following this, Saltford Parish Council welcomes the decision publicised yesterday (15th December 2021) by B&NES Council permitting Wessex Water’s planning application, including its intention to build a new bridge over the River Avon near to its Saltford-based site.

The new bridge connecting its Mead Lane site to the A431 – compared to alternative proposals considered by Wessex Water – along with the associated new wetland habitat is viewed by SPC as the optimum choice taking account of highway safety, environmental and sustainable development considerations.

From an ecological viewpoint, SPC is positive that the new wetland habitat will help towards redressing the loss of wetland habitat in this part of the Avon floodplain.

SPC recognises that the A4 Bath Road already has severe traffic congestion at peak periods arising from new housing developments in the area. Sharing the volume of vehicles travelling to and from Wessex Water’s important infrastructure facility between the existing access from the A4 and the A431 should help spread the load on local roads more evenly, reducing the traffic impact on Norman Road routing through the High Street and Mead Lane – all residential side-roads, the latter two being single carriageway and without footpaths in several places.

On page 21 of the report published on the B&NES Council Planning Portal (insert ref. 21/02322/FUL and go to the ‘plans & documents’ tab), under the ‘Public Benefits of the Scheme’ section it states that once the new bridge is in place, there will be ‘a reduction of traffic along Norman Road by 20% and through Saltford’s Conservation Area, reducing associated highways, residential amenity and heritage adverse effects’.

Other public benefits of this decision as listed on the report include:

  • Support ongoing operation and maintenance, as well as to support future essential
    development of the site required to accommodate future housing and employment growth targets.
  • The proposal will allow capacity at the WRC to be increased and enable wastewater to be
    treated to the highest level, such that it can be safely returned to the environment.
  • Least harmful route of all proposed routes
  • Improved pedestrian and recreational links via the proposed footpath which would connect
    with the River Avon Trail
  • Opportunity for local artist involvement in bridge artwork design
  • Decrease in the risk of flooding to 11 properties upstream of the proposed embankment
  • biodiversity net gain of 55.5%
  • Creation/ improvement of wetland habitat, delivering great benefits to the local waterfowl
    population, bats, birds, amphibians and invertebrates.
  • Short term creation of construction jobs and purchases from local suppliers

At the time of SPC’s decision to support the application, Phil Harding, Chair of Saltford Parish Council’s Planning Committee, stated “Saltford Parish Council supports Wessex Water’s proposals for the new access route into the Mead Lane site to be a new bridge over the River Avon giving direct access from the A431 close by. The Parish Council acknowledges that this is the most practical and sensible solution compared to the other options considered, minimising loss of Green Belt land and natural habitat, as well as helping to spread and share the transport load for this important infrastructure facility more evenly across roads in the local and wider area as borne out by the Atkins Transport Statement accompanying the planning application. HGVs have experienced many difficulties visiting the site via Saltford’s Norman Road, High Street and Mead Lane that are narrow and single-lane along several lengths, so the new access bridge route should greatly alleviate those problems for residents and visitors as well as for HGVs visiting the site. The Parish Council also welcomes the proposals for a Wetland Habitat that, if implemented successfully, should provide an opportunity to provide a net gain in biodiversity for the whole project and a habitat that has previously been lost in this part of the Avon floodplain.

B&NES Council is the planning authority. The role of Saltford Parish Council in the planning process is detailed on SPC’s website. For more information, please visit ‘What powers does Saltford Parish Council have with respect to planning applications?’ and ‘Stages of the planning decision making process’.

Large vehicles, including HGVs, experience difficulties visiting Wessex Water’s Mead Lane site due to the many narrow and single-lane sections of road in Saltford. The new access bridge route should greatly alleviate these problems. (Image taken on the High St)
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