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Creating Sustainable Communities: Somer Valley

Use this page to find out about our plans to create sustainable communities in the Somer Valley.

Background

Transport affects all aspects of our life: from the air we breathe to the jobs we can access, and the quality of our place – it is an integral part of creating sustainable communities.

As outlined in our Corporate Strategy, our transport system needs to deliver more travel choices to make it easier for all people to walk, wheel and use public transport. This will help enable the different types of journeys we want for the places we live and work – creating better connected, healthier, and more sustainable communities.

Our strategy for creating sustainable communities outlines a holistic approach to meeting the transport needs of those living, working, and visiting Bath and North East Somerset. It focuses on:

  • enhancing health and wellbeing
  • improving air quality
  • reducing the environmental impact of transport
  • combatting climate change
  • tackling congestion

The goal is to create better-connected, healthier, and genuinely sustainable communities by encouraging the use of sustainable modes of transport.

Our strategy for creating sustainable communities aims to provide more travel choices, investing in a transport network that meets current and future community needs. Our strategy outlines indicative short, medium, and long-term interventions. Implementing this transformative change will require significant investment and time.

After extensive public consultation, we adopted the Journey to Net Zero (JNZ) in May 2022 for Bath, which outlined our communities’ ideas on how we can transform our transport network within Bath to better meet the needs of our communities, businesses, and visitors.

We are now seeking to broaden and accelerate our approach to creating sustainable communities across the district, specifically in:

  • Keynsham and Saltford
  • Hicks Gate
  • Somer Valley
  • Whitchurch Village

We are seeking to open up more travel choices for our communities, providing attractive options that enable people to choose sustainable transport options without compromising on time or cost, to help build healthy communities and places.

To do that, we need to look at the whole transport system, recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution – not every mode of travel will suit every trip and every individual, and we need to ensure that as well as providing more travel choices for people.

We are also thinking about how those choices work together as a network, enabling people to change between modes. This could be as simple as cycling to a bus stop, or getting a bus to a train station - we need to make these journeys as seamless as possible. It is also important that we make it easy to string multiple trips together, such as from home to school to doctors to shops to home. Just one missing link in the chain can mean relying on a car to do the whole chain, or unnecessary hardship.

The challenges we are addressing

While each place has a unique context, common challenges impact North East Somerset. These include:

  • low-quality public realm
  • access to rail services
  • limited bus provision
  • inadequate walking and wheeling networks
  • topography and distance to places people want to go
  • distance to the strategic road network
  • fragmented cycle network
  • traffic congestion in urban areas

Transport issues and challenges in the Somer Valley

Creating a transport system that supports creating sustainable communities is not without its challenges. The transport issues and challenges facing the Somer Valley have been informed by what you, the community, have told us. Expand the sections below to read more about what the community has told us are the challenges it faces.

Topography and distance to major centres

The issues and challenges around topography and distance to major centres include:

  • the Somer Valley is hilly and settlements and facilities are spread over a wide area, making it harder to travel on foot or by bike within the area
  • distances to major centres such as Bristol, Bath and Frome result in high levels of car dependency

Lack of local job opportunities

The issues and challenges around the lack of local job opportunities include:

  • there are more homes than jobs in the Somer Valley
  • there is a mismatch between the type of jobs available within the Somer Valley and the local labour force
  • the above reasons result in a high level of out-commuting
  • significantly more people in the Somer Valley travel more than 10km to their place of work, compared with the B&NES average

Public transport

The issues and challenges around public transport include:

  • residents need to travel to Bath, Bristol, or Frome to access national rail services
  • the recent loss of bus services within the Somer Valley
  • limited bus connections between the east and west of the Somer Valley, poor services in rural areas and lack of connections between villages, leaving people with limited alternatives to travelling by car
  • bus services are often infrequent, circuitous, and expensive with long journey times, compared to the same journey by car

Town centre congestion

The issues and challenges around the town centre congestion include:

  • road traffic in town centres makes it harder to walk and cycle, worsens air quality, and dominates public space
  • the double-mini-roundabout in Radstock creates an unpleasant environment and makes it hard to walk and cycle
  • a limited road network results in congestion on key routes into, out of, and within the Somer Valley

Active Travel Network

Limited dedicated and joined-up cycle infrastructure to connect towns and villages within the Somer Valley.

Distance to road links, severance, & barriers to movement

The issues and challenges around distance to road links, severance, and barriers to movement include:

  • significant distance to the strategic road network, with the M5 and M4 motorways a long drive from the Somer Valley
  • roads in the Somer Valley carry a mix of short and long-distance traffic, including freight, travelling for many different purposes
  • high levels of HGV traffic travel through the communities on A Roads in the Somer Valley which can be intimidating for people walking and cycling (for example, Radstock & Westfield on the A367, Farrington Gurney, Clutton and Temple Cloud along the A37 and parts of Midsomer Norton on the A362)
  • many residents live on or close to a major A road or need to travel along one to access services or town centres, making car usage a natural choice for journeys due to ease of access, and making it harder to walk and cycle

Limited travel choices

The issues and challenges around limited travel choices include:

  • no access to e-scooters, no car clubs, limited buses, no rail services, and lack of a comprehensive cycle network results in higher private car ownership and usage
  • factors set out above result in long travel distances, limiting the number of alternatives to car usage

What we are consulting on

We are consulting on our plans for creating a sustainable community in the Somer Valley in order to achieve our policy goal of B&NES being Net Zero by 2030.

We have listened to the concerns of the community, and have identified a number of potential improvements that we would like to hear your views on. Expand the sections below to find out more about the potential interventions for the Somer Valley.

Local living

What it is

Enable a greater proportion of residents to live, shop, and undertake leisure activities within the Somer Valley.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

  • improving local walking and cycling links to local facilities
  • revitalising Midsomer Norton and Radstock town centres
  • supporting more mobile services for rural communities (for example, library, hairdressers, markets)

Public realm

What it is

Reduce the current impact that vehicles are having on our towns by improving the public realm and reducing the dominance of traffic.

How it could be achieved

This can be achieved by:

  • looking at options to support walking, cycling, and public transport
  • reducing the impact of traffic on our town centres
  • making our towns places where people want to spend more time by making them more welcoming, attractive, safer, and vibrant
  • potential use of Liveable Neighbourhoods style interventions to improve the walking and cycling environment, in collaboration with the local community
  • reduce the impact of traffic in rural communities. This could include:
    • increasing provision of safer pedestrian crossing facilities
    • reducing vehicle speeds
    • providing more dedicated active travel infrastructure

Radstock town centre

What it is

The road network in Radstock creates barriers for people and affects the quality of the environment.

How it could be achieved

Investigate potential options to reduce the impact of traffic in Radstock town centre to support sustainable transport and the economic prosperity of the town.

Options would be worked up with the community and could include:

  • increasing space available to pedestrians through widening footways and increasing crossing points
  • making cycling routes better connected
  • improving public transport facilities, potentially including bus priority
  • simplifying traffic network and junction arrangements, reducing barriers to walking and cycling
  • improving the public realm and making the environment more pleasant for people to spend time in

Quiet lanes

What it is

The villages need to be better connected for walkers and cyclists. Identifying minor rural roads that can work as “quiet lanes” would provide safer routes for pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders away from traffic.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

improving wayfinding

  • reviewing the purpose of the highway network (for example, which lanes should connect settlements by vehicle, and which would be more suited to active travel)
  • creating a network of quiet lane links and identifying whether targeted traffic management would be needed to support walking and cycling (for example, modal filters, reduced speed limits, traffic calming) 

Micromobility

What it is

Shared and e-mobility schemes can support people in travelling short and medium distances by sustainable modes. Extension of short-term e-scooter and e-bike rental within the Somer Valley.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

  • e-bike hire stations within towns and villages
  • expanding the coverage of the e-scooter network to the Somer Valley
  • trialling e-cargo bikes around industrial areas within the Somer Valley
  • improving storage with appropriate range of services (for example, charging, maintenance, lockers)

Cycling

What it is

Dedicated cycle lane provision.

How it could be achieved

Creation of an Active Travel Network including dedicated cycle lanes that link key facilities, jobs, and schools to those communities within the Somer Valley.

Mobility hubs

What it is

Mobility hubs are places that bring together a host of transport options in one place including shared transport such as car clubs and e-scooters with public transport and active travel modes.

A network of mobility hubs allows people to travel between and around places without the need for a car.

How it could be achieved

A range of mobility hubs to meet the needs of the area and the types of journeys they serve:

  • transport corridor hubs (for example, Farrington Gurney and Peasedown St John)
  • town centre hubs (for example, Midsomer Norton and Radstock)
  • main village hubs
  • supporting hubs

Bus infrastructure and priority

What it is

Improvement of bus infrastructure to encourage a greater use of bus services.

Interventions to provide bus journey time, and journey time reliability, benefits, by prioritising buses.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

  • upgrading bus stops and shelters with seating, shelter, and Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI)
  • bus priority measures to make journeys by public transport faster and more efficient
  • investigating opportunities to provide bus priority improvements between:
    • Midsomer Norton
    • Radstock
    • Peasedown St John
    • Bath

Fixed route bus services

What it is

There is a lot of movement between towns and villages in the Somer Valley, but bus services are limited. The provision of new bus services would support this travel.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by supporting the community in encouraging the West of England Mayor to:

  • connect communities to faster and more frequent services on the key corridors
  • provide a new east towest service along the A362 to connect Farrington Gurney, Midsomer Norton, Radstock, and Peasedown St John, supporting east-west movement in the Somer Valley, and improving bus connections to Bath and Bristol
  • better connect smaller communities with each other and key towns

Demand responsive transport (DRT)

What it is

DRT can complement fixed route public transport on the main corridors by providing connections into these existing services, thereby improving mobility and social inclusivity.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

  • extending the existing WESTlink DRT trial
  • improving the effectiveness of DRT through the use of mobility hubs to provide better connectivity

Public transport decarbonisation

What it is

Zero emission buses will help local authorities achieve their net zero targets, ensuring cleaner air, encouraging green growth, and improving health and wellbeing.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by working with bus operators and other key stakeholders to decarbonise the bus fleet.

Car parking

What it is

Ease and cost of parking can be one of the main influences in deciding whether to travel by car.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

  • keeping parking charges and management measures under review as improvements are made to the sustainable transport network
  • maintaining sufficient parking to serve rural hinterland and disabled and mobility impaired users

Car clubs

What it is

Car clubs allow members access to locally parked cars, therefore supporting lower car ownership.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by introducing electric vehicle car clubs to provide households with an alternative to owning multiple cars.

Electric vehicle charging

What it is

Providing electric vehicle charging points encourages individuals to use electric vehicles which will help local authorities achieve their net zero targets and cleaner air, encourage green growth and improve health and wellbeing.

How it could be achieved

This could be achieved by:

  • introducing more EV charging points in public car parks
  • introducing EV charging points in the villages (for example, at key local facilities such as Community Hubs)
  • rolling out on-street EV charging infrastructure

Read the full creating sustainable communities strategy

Who we are consulting with

We would like to hear from residents, businesses, and other organisations in the area, as well as anyone who uses the Somer Valley, about the potential improvements we are suggesting.

Respond to the consultation

The consultation is open from Wednesday 10 July until 5pm on Tuesday 20 August 2024. You can respond to the consultation using our online form.

Start now

Other ways to take part in the consultation

Printed copies of the report are also available to view at each of our libraries, along with questionnaires for you to complete. These can be handed in to library staff.

Alternative formats

If you need the consultation material in an alternative format such as large print, easy read, audio recording, or braille please email strategic_transport@bathnes.gov.uk

Come to a consultation event

We will be holding 4 consultation events where we will be able to answer any questions you may have about our proposals. The table below shows the details of the events.

Consultation events
Date and time Location
Thursday 18 July, 3pm to 7pm Council Chamber, The Hollies, High Street, Midsomer Norton, BA3 2DP
Monday 22 July, 3pm to 7pm Keynsham Community Space, 5 Temple St, Keynsham, Bristol BS31 1HA
Tuesday 23 July, 3pm to 7pm Brunswick Room, Guildhall, High St, Bath BA1 5AW
Tuesday 30 July, 3pm to 7pm Whitchurch United Reform Church, 24 Bristol Rd, Bristol BS14 0PQ

What happens next

We will consider all of the responses we receive and publish a consultation feedback report on this web page.

We will adopt the plan in winter 2024.