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Can new roads make a positive economic difference?

Wednesday, 08 February 2017

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Paul Hobbs, Industrial Director at GVA talks about the unveiling of Bristol’s new South Bristol Link road and the changes it will make to the commute and growth of the South of Bristol.

The unveiling of a major new road is not an everyday event. And when one is constructed, it is usually much heralded.

The new South Bristol Link road is perhaps unusual in not only relieving a significant number of traffic bottlenecks in South Bristol, but also being developed to achieve true social and economic aims.

For too long, South Bristol has been hindered by cross city communications that made it an unrealistic target for growth whilst north Bristol and Avonmouth prospered with new employment space and inward investment alongside the A38 and M4 . It seems that in Bristol a huge working population lives a far distance across the city from the employers who seek them. Further proposals for more (much needed) housing in South Bristol would only have compounded that commuting problem.

Linking Hengrove Park to the A370 Long Ashton Bypass, importantly the £45 million route provides a huge improvement to Bristol Airport and that will no doubt lead to accelerated growth and inward investment as a result. The road rejuvenates the Ashton Vale industrial area and will improve the job opportunities there as surplus space is let. The continued development of the MetroBus network running through this area will also make a major change across the city.

There are criticisms that the road isn’t a dual carriageway and once all the planned housing is built out along its route, it may itself become the bottleneck it seeks to replace. We still have the issue of ‘the missing link‘ from the A4174 to Hengrove and Brislington - a constant traffic jam; it’s not a true city ring road that we probably need.

In practice, there are very few new employment sites in south Bristol of real scale, whereas Avonmouth has 1000 acres, so economic impact of business growth can only be limited. It’s likely to be workforce mobility that will be the biggest outcome from the new investment and that will generate wealth.

For more information, please contact Paul Hobbs, Industrial Director at GVA on 0117 988 5220 / Paul.Hobbs@gva.co.uk