The Carmichael Commission was launched in March 2014 with the purpose of developing economic growth and local infrastructure investment across the Stroud Valleys and Vale. It aims to bring together business, stakeholders and local residents to identify our local priorities for investment.
The Commission successfully advocated the redoubling of the Kemble to Swindon railway line, securing a commitment from Government to start work on the A417 “Missing Link” and making the case for a new University Technical College at Berkeley Green, which opens it’s doors to students in 2017.
The Commission's work still continues and it’s latest recommendations are set out below;
The third crossing on the Severn
The plan for a new bridge to be built linking Sharpness and Lydney is part of a much wider strategy encompassing economic policy, social objectives, education provision, environmental protection, and, of course, several other transport links and facilities.
The bridge would reconnect two communities after some fifty years since the original railway bridge was destroyed by fire after a boat collided with the bridge structure. Today, the same route should be used for a road crossing linking the Forest of Dean to the M5 via Sharpness and by an upgraded road link to a new motorway junction, also benefitting Dursley and Cam.
In economic terms, this would create two ‘growth poles’ – Sharpness and Lydney – and strengthen logistics and manufacturing in the area as a whole. With Berkeley Green already emerging as a key education centre and soon to be enlarged through having a University Technical College, pupils and students from several directions will benefit massively from an improved transport network of this type.
Reopening the Bristol Road station at Stonehouse
Turning to the railway network, the existing provision would be radically enhanced by reopening the Bristol Road station in Stonehouse. This would mean commuters from the Stroud Valleys and Vale could reach either Birmingham or Bristol without a lengthy diversion and change of trains. Travel to work distances would be cut significantly and new opportunities for innovative small and larger businesses would emerge.
All of this investment would also help to protect the environment. Car journeys would be cut through having more direct routes such as crossing the Severn rather than relying on the now congested roads south of Gloucester and many commuters would opt to use the train for travelling to Birmingham or Bristol.
The Carmichael Commission is thinking about transport infrastructure in a holistic way to enable planners to see the advantages of linking communities together, understand the positive impacts on related policy areas, and calibrate the overall economic and social benefits. Being bold but thoughtful is the combination needed to pave the way for life fulfilment of all of our people.