Work at Redland Hill resumes after legal dispute is resolved
A footpath in Bristol was left dangerously blocked after a legal dispute dragged out repairs to a quarry wall for three years and counting.
The 12-metre wall above the lower car park of the Spire Hospital in Redland was damaged when it was hit by a lorry in December 2017.
The Redland Hill footpath at the top of the sheer drop – the only convenient route from Whiteladies Road, via a zebra crossing, to Durdham Park and Coldharbour Road – was immediately fenced off as it was unstable.
But this left wheelchair users and mothers with pushchairs having to cross the road, and for a short time the pavement on the other side of the road was blocked as well.
Three years later and the footpath is still impassable because the repairs to the wall are not yet finished as it took two years for a legal agreement to be signed so the work could even begin, city councillors heard.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel after Bristol City Council’s ruling Labour administration signed off the extra amount owed to it by the private hospital, which will pay for the full cost of the repairs.
Redland councillor Martin Fodor told cabinet members he and fellow ward councillor Fi Hance were grateful the council had stepped in to “knock heads together” in the dispute between the hospital and the lorry company over who should foot the bill.
He said: “It’s in fact now the third anniversary since the collision of the lorry with the wall, which rendered one of the pavements by it impassable.
“We had so many complaints. It’s been utterly frustrating as you can imagine.
“The temporary path was also impassable a lot of the time.
“People in wheelchairs, people with buggies actually had to cross the road to the other pavement, and for a time, the other pavement was also blocked for other reasons, so it became dangerous, not just inconvenient.
“But the frustration was the fact it had nothing to do with the council, it was between lawyers really: the site owner and the lorry company.
“But getting the council lawyer to knock heads together and then take responsibility for managing this…has been really helpful so we’re really grateful for this.
“We’re just hopeful that an end is finally in sight and [would like to] thank the council for helping manage this so that it can get sorted at no cost to ourselves.”
Cabinet member for transport Kye Dudd said the estimated total cost of the project had shot up from about £230,000 to £942,000 after “a number of quarry face failures and slippages” requiring the wall to be stabilised.
The hospital has promised to pay the entire sum in a legal agreement negotiated by the council, but the local authority will carry some of the costs in the meantime.
Cllr Dudd said: “After two years of a dispute and a negotiation with the hospital, Spire Hospital accepted full responsibility for the wall and quarry face, on the provision that Bristol City Council undertake the full design and supervise the works.
“The revised forecast for the completion of these works are now £942,000, some £711,000 in excess of the original estimate.
“The additional cost is being picked up by Spire Hospital in accordance with the legal agreement, and to date the council have been paid by the Spire in the sum of £653,000 with the remainder being paid on completion of the work.
“At the moment the project is about 80 per cent complete.”
Cabinet papers show the legal agreement negotiated by the council was signed in November 2019. The repair work began in December of that year.
“Completing the scheme will allow both carriageways and the northernmost footway of Redland Hill to be opened,” according to the paper to the December 1 cabinet meeting.
“Opening both traffic lanes will remove congestion and associated pollution caused by the temporary traffic signals which are currently in situ.
“Completing the scheme will also allow Spire to have full safe use of their car park below, thus reducing pressure on local residential roads to have to accommodate excess vehicles.”
Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service