A RING ROAD AROUND BATH CITY CENTRE

Introduced by Denis Lovelace, Chairman BEAT Network on 10 June 1997

Denis Lovelace was a Bath City Councillor for 18 years and Mayor of Bath. He is now Chairman of
the Bath Environment and Traffic Network (BEAT), a pressure group representing primarily the residents of
Bath which has presented to the Council various proposals for the control of traffic in the City.
As this was the first meeting of the Group, the Convener, Don Lovell, explained the objectives and
organisation before introducing the speaker. The objective is to agree a statement on each subject,
whenever possible, which could be sent to the Council to influence their thinking.
Mr Lovelace described the problems with traffic in Bath, which is fundamentally caused by two
factors:
a)the location of Bath at the junction of the NW-SE route from the Bristol &South Wales area and
the N-S route from the Midlands to the Southampton, Poole and Portsmouth area.
b) the narrow and historic street pattern which is a great attraction for tourists and for shoppers
from the surrounding districts.
Making the centre of Bath a Pedestrian Priority Area in which cars had restricted access and
deliveries by lorries was banned during shopping hours would improve conditions for tourists, shoppers,
residents and traders. To enable traffic requiring to move from one side of the city to the other to do so
easily without penetrating this area, he suggested a ring road around the centre using existing streets.
Existing streets were not ideally suited but had to be accepted.
During the discussion it was suggested that the proposed route was too close to the
centre and that the A36 Cleveland Bridge - Pulteney Road - Rossiter Road - Lower Bristol Road should be
utilised for half the circuit, with Midland Bridge Rd - Charles Street - Queen Square - George Street - The
Paragon forming the remainder. This would have the advantage of allowing the new Southgate
development to become a cul-de-sac with restricted access to the railway and bus stations over Churchill
Bridge, as proposed by the Highways Dept.
It was also considered that the primary aim of any changes should be to prevent cars entering the
City rather than trying to deal with them once they had done so.
As far as through traffic and delivery vehicles were concerned it was agreed that a weight limit of
about 3 tonnes was essential to prevent damage to Georgian building by vibration and to reduce road
maintenance. Heavier vehicles should be encouraged to use the A350. Local shops should arrange trans-
shipment to smaller vehicles at depots outside the city.
It was emphasised that Bath must decide whether it wanted to be a shopping centre and whether
large stores were desirable in it. There are 640 small shops now, many more than is justified by the size of
the city, and this is its attraction for shoppers. Perhaps multiple stores should be encouraged to move to
Cribbs Causeway!

Don Lovell