At the request of Clifton Businesses, BID commissioned a report into the traffic experiment in Princess Victoria St from an independent specialist The Assembly Line.
The executive summary and a link to the full copy of the report can be found below.
A copy of this report was sent to Bristol City Council on 4th February.
In August 2021, Bristol City Council (the council) implemented a temporary road closure on Princess Victoria Street in Clifton Village. This was introduced under the government’s Active Travel Fund designed to support Covid-19 recovery plans in increasing space for pedestrians and cyclists with similar schemes created across England.
The road closure in Clifton Village has seen Princess Victoria Street (PVS) closed to traffic between 11am and 5pm daily since 21 August 2021.
Clifton Village BID in representing businesses in the village had concerns on the impact of the closure in its early stages and that it might become permanent without further engagement. The BID appointed The Assembly Line in November 2021 to review the impact of the closure on businesses in recognition that there are different views held across the area and that an independent review would provide a bigger picture of the scheme’s impact.
In conducting the review, we spoke to 50 individuals in Clifton between November 2021 and January 2022 consisting of business owners/managers, some residents and local ward councillors. While some hospitality businesses have been benefited from gaining additional seating areas, evidence has shown that other businesses have seen reduced footfall and takings. In conjunction with this we analysed footfall, online and local press comments, council engagement reports and identified similar schemes to PVS in locations.
While the council have attributed changing trading patterns and reduced sales to an increase in internet shopping, changing shopping habits, wider societal changes following Covid-19 and businesses not adapting, we found this was not the case. Many customers still like to visit the shops and almost all businesses have adapted to offer multi-channel options for customers with delivery or click and collect so not all of the negative elements that are happening can be blamed on these aspects which are not related to the road closure.
The results of the review are inconclusive. The scheme, as it is now, is neither a roaring success nor a failure. Some customers enjoy the increased space, businesses with outdoor seating are benefiting while those who receive frequent deliveries or offer appointments are experiencing a negative impact. However, the implementation of the scheme has created mistrust and upset between businesses and their customers between the council and both businesses and residents, the topic is divisive.
Much of this ill feeling has arisen due to the way in which the council carried out its early consultation in 2020 where the results do not support the road closure. That aside there has been limited further engagement or an openness to review the scheme to consider how it might be improved. The scheme as it stands cannot possibly deliver against the council’s objectives in relation to air quality, reduced vehicles and active travel and if Clifton is to support city-wide targets then the closure has been a missed opportunity.
The BID and their members are well informed on how places need to change with a reduced focus on vehicles and more space for pedestrians and non-vehicle forms of transport. However the changes made to Princess Victoria Street are merely tinkering round the edges and with no (active travel) support offered to offset the change. On 21 January, the council confirmed that the consultation period will run to 20 February 2022 however, the current scheme will remain in place until at least 6 May 2022. This raises many concerns given the need to review the scheme sooner rather than later and builds further mistrust as to how this decision has been made and why. For this reason, the BID is submitting this report to the council to encourage a dialogue on the merits and shortcomings of the scheme. The BID does not wish to block the scheme but believe that it can work better for everyone with adaptions to the current arrangements. They would welcome a review meeting to discuss the review findings and to put forward suggestions for alternative options that may deliver better results for all involved. Their hope is that this would lead to the creation of a group to work in partnership with the council to implement a scheme that works for all.
To read the review in full including the background, the rationale for the scheme, the current situation, findings, data, road closures in other locations and the conclusions please [click here]