Public ‘suspicious’ of vision for Yate to become a 15-minute town

A vision for the future of Yate that could attract up to £600million has been unveiled – but residents were “suspicious” of council plans and public trust must be rebuilt.

South Gloucestershire Council approved its final masterplan for a “15-minute town” this week following 12 weeks of public consultation.

Major changes to the town centre, rail and bus stations and the industrial estate are proposed so that it takes residents only 15 minutes to walk or cycle to work, schools, shops.

READ MORE: Kingswood regeneration a step closer with new leisure centre planned

Initial plans to relocate the bus station and leisure centre have been dropped following feedback from the public, who also expressed fears that town centre parking could be lost, a concern the authority insists is only a perception and not its intention.

Nearby villagers will also be “alarmed” over a proposed link road between the A432 and Yate Road, a councillor said, and the whole plan hinges on the future of Yate shopping centre, which is understood to have been sold but the owners are not yet known.

The masterplan, approved by the Conservative administration on Monday (December 13), sets out the changes that could take place in Yate over the next 15 to 20 years.

Leisure centre and bus station to stay in place – for now

Changes include a new town square, an upgraded railway station with both platforms on the same side of the road, a modernised bus station, and a new link road through the industrial estate connecting the A432 and Yate Road.

The riverbank will be widened around the River Frome, and a proposed new cycle route will connect the park and ride, the industrial estate, the railway station and the town centre.

The leisure centre and bus station will stay where they are for now, but could be relocated in future.

Health facilities, other public services and shops will remain in the town centre, but the ambulance and fire stations may move into the industrial estate.

The council plans to shift car parking indoors eventually, either inside or underneath buildings, and is promising drop-off areas for taxis and charging points for electric cars, scooters and bicycles.

The council notes that “urban lifestyles” will be needed to protect the town’s green spaces and natural environment from future town growth.

But it says it will keep building heights “sensible”, and has referred to “medium height” buildings of five or six storeys.

Public ‘suspicious’

The masterplan, which could see between £300 and £600 million invested in Yate, aims to make the town more “welcoming, healthy, sustainable and prosperous”, according to the council.

But the public appeared suspicious of the council’s intentions during the consultation, and had to be reassured that no detailed plans had been agreed yet, cabinet members were told.

A report to the meeting said: “Towards the end of the public consultation period, it became clear that some residents were very concerned about issues relating to housing and parking in the town centre.

“Concern centred on the potential height of buildings and the number of parking spaces.

“The project team sought to explain that these issues need to be considered in detail once the vision, ambition and principles for the town centre are agreed through the masterplan.

“However, there is a sense that the public were suspicious about the positive intentions of the masterplan and as we move to the next steps, efforts should be made to restore public trust in the future town centre redevelopment.”

Yate Shopping Centre car park entrance
(Image: Google Maps)

The council has not decided how many car parking spaces will be needed, or made any decisions about the height or number of new homes in the town centre, the report said.

It has no plans to reduce the number of shops, get rid of the cinema or relocate banks, post offices or the minor injuries unit, it added.

It is not planning to close Station Road to traffic, but is hoping to use some of the road space for a fully segregated cycle route and to reduce the number of high goods vehicles travelling along it.

“The final Yate Town Improvement Masterplan takes us on the first steps towards realising new opportunities for Yate, setting a strong and ambitious vision, ambition and principles from which more detail will flow,” the report said.

‘Alarm’ over proposed link road

Frampton Cotterell councillor Tristan Clark told the cabinet meeting the proposed new link road would cross the Frome Valley Walkway and likely lead to more of it being swallowed up by an expanded industrial estate, most of which lies in the parishes of Iron Acton and Westleigh.

“Many residents in those parishes will be concerned and some alarmed about the proposal for a link road connecting the A432 with Yate Road,” he said.

‘Risk’ after shopping centre changes hands

Fellow Liberal Democrat Mike Drew, who represents Yate North, asked about the risk presented by the sale of the shopping centre, given its significance to the masterplan and the fact “we have no idea what the attitude of the new owners might be”.

Council leader Toby Savage replied: “I agree that the future ownership of the shopping centre is critical to the delivery of the aspirations the masterplan sets out.”

Cllr Savage told BBC Radio Bristol the next day: “We want to work with them [the new owners] to make sure we get the investment into the heart of Yate to ensure it’s a really vibrant and healthy community.”

The development of Yate is expected to be funded by a mix of public and private investment.

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