Making a big mistake.

We’ve been featuring Queen Square of late, and the work going on there as part of the Clean Air Zone infrastructure that has to be in place before such a zone can be implemented.


I said the work was due to be completed by the end of August but thought the CAZ won’t be up and running until next year.


In the meantime, John Branstone writes:

‘Sorry to say I think B&NES are making a huge mistake here and will create permanent stationary traffic at multiple sets of lights around Queen Sq & Gay St (tailing back into George St, Charlotte St and Chapel Row), forever ruining the air quality, rather than improving it.

I’m not a traffic expert, just a cycling commuter who passes through the square twice per day. I wrote my ideas to Highways 2-3 years ago. My suggestions in short:

  • E & S sides of square closed to traffic and opened up for pedestrian use or e.g. hut-based cafes.
  • Old King St sealed off; John St & Old King St accessible only for very minimal delivery traffic at limited times from the Quiet St area.
  • Everything that comes down Gay St follows the road (no traffic lights) right onto N side (2 way).
    • Traffic heading for Charles St turns left down W side (one way) and Chapel Row (one way).
    • Everything heading westwards continues onto Charlotte St and Upper Bristol Rd.
  • Everything going N on Charles St turns left into Monmouth Place.
    • Everything heading for George St turns right into Charlotte St and through the N side of Queen Square.
    • Else westwards on Upper Bristol Rd.

While you’re about it, you could make the Charles St left turn into Monmouth Place the priority route, with traffic from Monmouth St and Chapel Row on a Give Way, doing away with further lights and further stationary traffic.

When I made this suggestion to Highways, they told me it was unworkable, on the basis that northbound traffic on Charles St could not be forced to turn left into Monmouth Place, as the turning is too narrow. Yet this is the exact (temporary) arrangement that has been in place for the last 6 months with no ill effects. It’s very odd.

These are just my thoughts. I will be happy to be proven wrong, but if Queen Square becomes a permanent traffic jam, I hope they will have a rethink.

All the best and keep up the good work!”



  1. Completely agree about the stationery traffic that will be caused (made the same point when it was originally announced) and completely agree with the alternative layout suggested.

    Is there any record of B&NES changing their decision based on superior logical solution proposed by a resident, or do they just channel Tom Petty (…won’t back down)?

  2. Paul Jackson sent the following email:

    My comment supporting John Branstone:

    This has been a bone of contention for a long time and I have to say, that I agree with John Branstone about restricting traffic more there (as London has done in its Queen Square). Better still, why not follow Bristol and route traffic out of Queen Square altogether? In Bath this could be done by sending it via Queens Parade Place to Charlotte Street, and closing Chapel Row.

    Queen Square itself has a remarkable heritage – the first square, at least in Bath to be built with a uniform frontage. John Wood had seen how Cavendish Square in London had ended up with a mish-mash of styles because individual builders had been allowed to do their own thing. He was determined to require Bath builders to comply with his overarching design. This was based on the Palladian pattern books of Colen Campbell, with the north side having the appearance of an urban palace (or country house) even though it consisted of individual houses. (Wentworth Woodhouse in Yorkshire looks similar because the same source was used there.) John Wood achieved Queen Square against the odds – creating the first major development in Bath outside the old city (borough) walls. We all should treasure it more.

    The square has been neglected for too long. Yet even now, it has terrific potential – rid it of traffic and it could become, like Kingsmead Square, a much more significant social asset for the city.

    Paul Jackson

  3. The present scheme was inherited by the current administration. It forms part of the general CAZ agreed with government and can’t be amended without its consent. Has anyone at B&NES tried to get it amended, though? The existing temporary scheme seems to work OK and, I would guess, must itself have reduced emissions. Couldn’t it be retained as a stop-gap, so at least one side is closed to traffic and avoiding the cost and intrusion of the planned infrastructure?

  4. I did approach both Joanna Wright and Sarah Warren about this scheme and why we couldn’t close three sides of the Square. The problem is that the previous administration submitted a model to JAQU that was legally accepted and funded by the government. Any changes to the scheme would make the council legally liable and the £18m they have been provided to implement the CAZ would be reclaimed. I suspect the council has to just bide its time, implement the CAZ and then wait a year or two before making any changes.

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