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Businesses "put off" by congestion to Emersons Green, near Bristol, and urge new link road to M4

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Written by: Michael Yong | Posted 22 September 2015 18:27


Firms looking to move into empty plots of land in the east of Bristol are being put off by congestion and transport problems.

A new report into the business and social benefits of a new link to the M4 from Emersons Green was presented in the House of Commons last week.

Commissioned by the Gateway2Growth campaign group, and written by the University of Bath, it highlights key reasons for the link.

The analysis in the report was undertaken between July and September. According to the report, evidence shows potential businesses looking to move to Emersons Green have been put off with poor access to the M4.

Heavy congestion on the ring road has led to calls to restart a campaign the link road between junctions 18 and 19 of the M4.

The calls were first made nearly 30 years ago, but have been unsuccessful for various reasons.

Thousands of homes also now earmarked for that part of Bristol and South Gloucestershire. In the enterprise area to the east of Westerleigh Road lie a number of business parks, three NHS centres, and a Sainsbury’s distribution centre.

Recently plans have been approved for ALD Automotive to create a £12million, 36,000 sqft office building.

But the site, which is already home to the Bristol and Bath Science Park (BBSP), still has 22 hectares of spare capacity, with the take-up of the remaining plots slow.

Although BBSP is now full, there is still space for expansion or further development in the land around it.

The report read: “BBSP is proactive in ongoing negotiations with potential partners to attract new investment to the site.

“There is some evidence that firms have been deterred from investing into the BBSP site, citing poor motorway access and high traffic congestion as a primary factor.

“This includes one major investor, which had considered investing in a new plot on the BBSP, but decided on an alternative site which had better motorway access.”

George Hopkins, engineering manager of HiETA Technologies, added: “Anything west of the BBSP is completely inaccessible during peak times.

“The great resources at BBSP and of the wider area, such as at Filton and also facilities such as Bristol Parkway station, are not easy to access and so are not utilised.

“The networking opportunities at BBSP have expanded our business opportunities – BBSP does exactly what it should do – but getting there is a significant problem.”

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore is leading calls to create the road to provide easier access to Emersons Green.

Transport minister Andrew Jones was at the meeting last week to acknowledge the report and a petition with hundreds of signatures.

Mr Skidmore said: ““The University of Bath’s report sets out a clear and pressing need for investment in a new junction, on a number of fronts.

“It is a significant step in the Gateway2Growth campaign, which is building momentum with a clear consensus on the business and social benefits for the region, commuters and businesses.

“There has been significant economic development in this area and we need a road infrastructure to cater for this growth and the future development that is expected here.

“I have been leading the campaign for the new 18a link since entering Westminster and the need for a new road link is becoming more pressing than ever if we are to maximise the area’s economic potential.”

The initiative has already gained cross-party support, with organisations at the business parks joining calls for it.

It was also highlighted at Prime Ministers Questions earlier this year.

The reports said the new link would attract new business investment and highly skilled employment to the Emersons Green Enterprise Area, particularly in high technology industries.

Thornbury and Yate MP and campaign supporter Luke Hall added: "Lots of people I speak to recognise the need for improvements to the M4 junction to meet the current need for better infrastructure.

“It forms a key part of supporting future growth for South Gloucestershire and will help the Government and local partners deliver on their objectives for a dynamic, locally-led and growing economy."

The Emersons Green Enterprise Area has been identified as a key area for economic growth over the next 12 years with up to 7,000 jobs predicted to be created.



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