Far from improving life for local residents, radical plans for Liveable Neighbourhoods in Bath will leave parts of the city “unliveable”.
The Conservative councillors on Bath and North East Somerset Council have called on the Liberal Democrat Administration to re-think its proposals for Liveable Neighbourhoods.
Liveable Neighbourhoods is a policy that the Lib Dems claim will tackle the climate emergency by reducing reliance on cars.
A key part of the policy is delivering Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), groupings of predominantly residential streets that restrict through traffic.
Although supportive of the principle of LTNs, the opposition Conservative Group on B&NES Council has issued three main objections to the Lib Dems’ approach. They are:
- The negative impact on people with mobility problems and businesses in Bath
- The displacement of traffic to areas that are already congested
- The unnecessary restriction on residents’ freedoms
The Conservative councillors pointed to concerns raised by residents that Bath’s topography would make the aims of the strategy to increase walking and cycling more challenging. The city’s hilly terrain makes the car often the most appropriate form of transport and restricting vehicles would have negative consequences for those residents unable to walk or cycle.
Echoing concerns raised by the Federation of Bath Residents’ Association, the Conservatives have pointed out that LTNs, rather than encouraging people out of their cars onto bicycles or walking, will simply displace traffic onto main roads that are already busy, and which are also residential.
In sending traffic on longer, more circuitous routes, and adding to congestion, pollution levels are likely to concentrate and increase.
And by making it much harder for people to commute into, and around, Bath, the current proposals could encourage businesses to move out of the city.
Such limits on movement are, the Conservatives say, an unnecessary and as yet unjustified restriction on residents’ liberties to drive around the place they call home. The Administration has not sufficiently demonstrated that this loss of freedom, which contributes to a liveable city, is a price worth paying.
Cllr Paul Myers, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bath and North East Somerset Council, said: “The Lib Dem Administration’s Unliveable Neighbourhoods plans could have serious impacts on residents and businesses in Bath.
“Although Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods have seen some success in other parts of the country, the overall picture nationally is mixed. There is no guarantee we will see similar successes in Bath, with its unique geography, and it’s clear that the consequences haven’t been properly considered.
“With the displacement of traffic, barriers to mobility for residents and businesses and resitrictions to personal freedom, we do not support the roll-out of these Unliveable Neighbourhoods.”