Residents from West End, Nailsea, fear more traffic
By Carol_Deacon | Monday, April 23, 2012, 17:09
The owner of the equestrian centre near Clevedon is considering offering airport car parking to save the complex.
But residents living in nearby Kenn and West End, Nailsea are worried such a plan would put more traffic on the rural roads.
Nick Davies bought the Hand Equestrian Centre at Davis Lane from businessman Barry Bradshaw in 2007 and has since spent around £2.6 million upgrading and refurbishing the complex.
But despite the centre – which is an approved Olympic stadium – being used by organisations including the British Show Jumping Association and other groups for shows and events, Mr Davies says he is subsidising its running costs by an average of £12,000 to £15,000 a month.
He is now investigating turning an unused lorry park on the 15 acre site into airport car parking in a bid to diversify his business.
The scheme involves creating up to 500 spaces – including 32 for disabled people – on the lorry park as well as reception facilities, a waiting area and a toilet block.
The lorry park would be resurfaced as part of the scheme with new lighting and a barrier to control vehicle movements.
Two shuttle buses would take people to and from the airport with one bus leaving the centre every hour and a bus leaving Bristol Airport every 30 minutes.
The service would operate 24 hours a day and work in partnership with Cadbury House at Congresbury.
Guests arriving at the hotel to stay before travelling to the airport would leave their cars at the Hand Equestrian Centre with a shuttle bus taking them to the hotel and then on to the airport for their flight.
Routes which the shuttle buses would use have yet to be confirmed, but are likely to include Kenn Moor Road and through Yatton and Claverham Drove and up through Brockley Coombe to the airport.
However it is possible that another route along the moors of West End in Nailsea may also be used.
The scheme would create 16 full and part-time jobs and some of the buses would also be open to the local rural community to use.
Mr Davies, a retired policeman, has already held preparatory talks with North Somerset Council planning officers and has put his plans to Kenn and Yatton parish councils.
But residents in Kenn have already raised objections to the proposal, claiming it will add traffic to the already busy moor roads.
Mr Davies commissioned an independent traffic study by a team of transport, planning and engineering consultants to assess what impact the buses would have on the local road network.
The study said that the parking scheme would see an increase of between one or two vehicle movements on the routes per hour.
Mr Davies has also been working with O Leary Goss architects to draw up early plans for the scheme.
Mr Davies said if the scheme is not supported by the local community he will be forced to close the complex in the summer, with the loss of nearly 20 jobs.
He said: "During the past five years there has always been a shortfall in the revenue stream and I am subsidising the venue by up to £15,000 a month and this cannot continue.
"During the summer months, many of our riders and show jumpers are at the shows, so it is extremely quiet.
"The airport is at its busiest during our quietest times and we thought it made sense to use the complex for something during these quiet times.
"There are already people using these routes to travel to the airport and this scheme will actually take traffic off the roads.
"This is not a money-making scheme – I am trying to do something to support the arena which is an asset to the community.
"The arena brings a lot to the local community and our visitors benefit the local economy.
"We have looked at all the criteria set by the local authority and these criteria have been met in pre-application discussions with planning officers.
"If I decide not to move forward with the airport parking proposal, the complex will have to close."
Mr Davies outlined his proposals at a meeting at Kenn village hall earlier this month.
More than 50 councillors and villagers heard worries expressed about 'sat navs' directing airport traffic via Davis Lane, Nailsea Wall Lane, Netherton Wood Lane and into Nailsea in a 24 hour operation.
Residents were already alarmed at the number of accidents at West End have been campaigning for speed and weight restrictions on the narrow country roads for a number of years.
Some added they didn't care whether the equestrian centre closed or not.
Mr Davies said while he was sympathetic to their concerns as he had farmed locally for 20 years he thought it was all 'a storm in a teacup' and at this time the proposal was only one option being considered.