Fresh confusion has surrounded the viability of building a so-called ‘Park & Rail’ facility at Bathampton, after it emerged that Bath and North East Somerset Council has granted permission for a new housing estate to be built at the site of the proposed train station.
In order to accommodate the Park & Rail at the proposed site, the railway track at the Bathampton junction would need to be realigned and straightened to meet with the health and safety requirements for new train stations.
However, it has now emerged that in September the Council granted planning permission for the construction of fifteen new properties at the Old Timber Yard on Tyning Road in Bathampton, with the developer hoping to start work on the new homes next year. The new homes will be built directly in the path of the railway line which would serve the proposed Park & Rail station, raising renewed questions over the feasibility of the project.
Conservative councillors have demanded answers from the Lib Dem-run Council over what this means for the future of the Park & Rail proposal. Opposition transport spokesman Cllr Anthony Clarke said:
“Conservatives are happy to give our wholehearted support to any proposal which could help resolve the chronic traffic problems on the east of Bath.
“But the news that B&NES has granted planning permission for fifteen houses to be built at the proposed Park & Rail site has to raise new questions over the viability of this particular project. These are questions which B&NES is yet to answer.”
The proposed Park & Rail has already come under scrutiny over its cost and feasibility, with a report commissioned by the Highways Agency putting the price tag for the project at anywhere between £46 million and £58 million – above even the Council’s own estimate of £34 million.
A report for the Council by transport consultants Halcrow concluded that the extensive highway and rail engineering works required to build the station ‘will make this site very expensive to deliver’ and that it is ‘considered doubtful that a good business case with a sound Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) could be achieved.’
Councillor Anthony Clarke added:
“The Liberal Democrats have completely failed to get a grip of Bath’s transport problems, and over the past four years have made no progress whatsoever in finding a site for the long-discussed new Park & Ride to the east of the city.
“We’ve had too many failed transport projects in Bath, we simply can’t afford for there to be any more confusion and delay over this issue.”