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Wednesday, 29 December 2010

TARA's Engagement in the issues of the Bath Night Time Economy

TARA is involved in a number of activities aimed at improving the management of the night time economy and ensuring that resident's views are considered when decisions are being made.

We provide the chairman of a Police Resources and Visibility Working Group whose terms of reference are to:

1. Make practical recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of policing in the centre of the city

2. Make practical recommendations as to how the police and other agencies can work together to improve the experience of people using the city centre

3. Support the development of a vision for the management of the night time environment in Bath which can be used to guide future planning

4. Suggest ways of improving public understanding of policing in the City


We have a representative on BANE'S NTE Steering committee which is a coordinating body for all the agencies involved in the management of the night time economy.

We have a representive on the City Centre Management Partnerships’ - Environmental Management Project Group where local business representative discuss projects aimed at improving peoples' experience in the city centre.

We provided assessors for the overnight audit team for the Purple Flag which aims at improving the night time economy and winning outside recognitions for having done so.

We routinely act on behalf of Residents’ in the processes associated with:

* Licencing
* Planning and Development and in
* Discussions with Licensees

Friday, 17 December 2010

King Edwards School - Planning Application

We have objected to Samuel Smiths application for the removal, in its entirety, of Condition 21 of their current planning permission which relates to limits on the patronage of the rear courtyard area. The use of this large area by excessive numbers of customers could seriously harm the amenity of the occupants of the 20-odd apartments in the immediate area. It was for this reason that TARA, together with neighbouring residents’ groups, pressed for limits to the number of patrons allowed to use this area at any one time and we believe that the Committee was right to impose this condition.

The applicants’ reference to government Circular 11/95, and their argument that Condition 21 duplicates a condition imposed under the Licensing Act 2003 is, in our view, misconceived. The existence of parallel conditions on the same premises under the planning and licensing regimes is common. Even if this were not the case we believe there is no duplication. The licence condition which requires that the rear courtyard area be ‘predominantly seated’ turns on the meaning of the word ‘predominantly’ and, as such, is open to interpretation and would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. The planning condition which refers to a maximum occupancy of the rear courtyard of 96 patrons is, by contrast, precise and enforceable.
Since the applicants’ argument relating to Condition 21 depends entirely on the existence of ‘duplication’ we believe Condition 21 should be retained in its current form.

Friday, 1 October 2010

King Edward School - Latest Developments

On September 29th the Yorkshire brewer Samuel Smith was duly grated planning permission to convert the old King Edward School building in Broad Street into a pub-restaurant with hotel accommodation on the upper floors. Given that the proposals are consistent with the Local Plan and that a licence was granted three years ago there was never much doubt about the outcome. Of course, our city centre needs a large new pub like a hole in the head but TARA believes that, after years of work on both the licence and the planning application sufficient safeguards have been imposed on the owner to ensure that this can never become a large stand-up boozer of the kind that has so disfigured our city centre in the past. Hours have been limited, only one smallish bar has been permitted and there are restrictions on the use of external areas to the front and rear. The licence requires that much of the floor space in the restaurant and bars be taken up by furniture.

And there are some positives. It is the case up and down the country that only the licensed trade can afford the expense of restoring some of our most vulnerable city centre buildings (O’Neill’s in Saw Close, formerly a Methodist chapel, is an example). At least the old school, which some TARA members attended, will be brought back to life and given a role and we will be able to get inside and have a look round.

And remember, before local architect Thomas Jelly built the school around 1754 the site had been occupied by the Black Swan – a pub.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The OPA License Review

This part of the city centre is primarily residential. The block on which OPA is located bounded by North and South Parades and Duke Street is entirely residential containing 65 apartments in 7 apartment buildings as well as ASE (Advanced Studies in England) a residential hostel for foreign students which has operated on North Parade above the subject premises since the late 1980’s

For some time, and on many occasions, local residents and local businesses have complained about the late night noise created by OPA’s operation; indeed they have been the subject of noise abatement enforcement by Environmental Protection officers. We understand that local residents will be providing testimony for the Licensing committee to consider. The noise complained of derives from extensive noise leakage from OPA’s premises and noise created by, often rowdy and intoxicated, revellers entering and leaving the building and gathering outside on the pavement.

OPA is the focus of much anti-social behaviour and again we understand that resident's will be providing detailed testimony about the crime and disorder they are routinely subjected to including threatening behaviour, street urination, vomit and littering

OPA has effectively become a nightclub by stealth and indeed recently applied to have this new use endorsed by the planning committee.

The premises were operated as a restaurant between 1983 and 2007 without adversely affecting the amenity of local residents and we believe that the conditions on the licence should be amended to be more appropriate to use as a restaurant and restrict the licensees ability to operate as a nightclub as this activity runs counter to both the spirit and letter of the cumulative impact policy

TARA has no objection to OPA operating as a traditional well managed restaurant similar to many others in residential areas of the city centre. Our objection is to OPA as a bar and nightclub. We therefore would ask the committee to consider imposing conditions or modifying existing conditions to constrain the licensee's ability to operate their premises as a bar and nightclub. This should include consideration of the hours of operation, the conditions under which alcohol can be served, the provision of live dancing and the playing of music other than as a background to the serving of food.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A BID FOR BATH - 2

Earlier we reported on efforts by the city centre manager, Andrew Cooper, to get a Business Improvement District established in our city centre. We now learn that detailed proposals will go to council leaders and business owners in the next few weeks. If voted through and fully subscribed these proposals would include a permanent team of five focussing on the cleanliness and management of city centre streets, an award scheme for businesses reaching exemplary standards in the management of their premises and their surroundings, an organisation which would help to manage the night time economy, a marketing drive which would include festivals and cultural events and improving access to the city centre.

Yes, this is a business-led initiative and it will be important to ensure that residents’ interests are not overlooked and that the BID creates real additional resources, not just more lobbyists, but TARA believes, on balance, that the Bath BID represents a real prospect of channelling the additional funding in the city centre to make real the many improvements in our surroundings we would like to see.

These are important proposals and we urge the council, Future Bath Plus and the city centre business community to get behind them. Anyone who would like to see what can be achieved should visit Northumberland Place where local businesses have already acted together to make a colourful and vibrant street out of what was becoming a grimy and unkempt backwater. Congratulations to the Northumberland Place community and to FBP’s Environment Panel chaired by Graham Webb of St Johns.


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Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Weir Lounge

The Weir Lounge has applied to the Licensing Authority "To remove the condition which limits the number of persons who may be present on the premises when the authority of the the licence is in use".

We are frankly astonished to see this application. The limit on numbers was set as we understand it to ensure that numbers of people at this venue remained at levels where they could be properly managed to avoid crime, disorder, public nuisance and safety breaches.

Since this limit was set these premises have been the subject of constant complaints from residents who suffer the nuisance caused by drunken revellers draw to the area by these premises who regularly use cheap drinks offers and drink based promotions to attract customers. See examples from their Facebook site below:

WeirLounge Bath TONIGHT MASHED WEDNESDAYS TOP TUNES AND CHEAP DRINKS
WeirLounge Bath MID WEEK MAYHEM TONIGHT AT MASHED MASHED WEDNESDAYS @ The Weir Lounge SEE YOU THERE
WeirLounge Bath ★ ☆ LUSH PRESENTS THE DOUBLES SATURDAY ★ ☆★ANY★HOUSE★ DOUBLE★AND★MIXER★FOR★£2.50★★FREE GUESTLIST TEXT YOUR NAME TO 07867 930436
WeirLounge Bath TONIGHT GET SMAHED AT MASHED GRADUATION THEME PARTY AT THE WEIR LOUNGE

The police have catalogued a list of licensing breaches, disorder, drunkenness and violence all of which suggest severe problems with the management of these premises.

If any conclusion can be drawn from this it is that the number of persons allowed to use these premises was set too high and should be lowered.

We ask the committee to refuse this application.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Banes Street Trading Policy


We would like to see an explicit reference to proximity to residential properties and residential amenity in the criteria for pitch selection.

We would like to see reference to consulting the residents’ associations about applications as there are no parish councils to consult in the city centre

We think it would be helpful to all concerned if the council published more explicit guidelines regarding the appearance of stalls as a baseline for good practice.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

TARA’s Comments on the proposed BANES Cultural Strategy

In general we are concerned that this document does not discuss measures of effectiveness in any detail. It does not set measurable goals.

The document does not address how in practice the relationship between this and other key planning and control processes such as planning and licensing will be managed.

We are unclear why a focus upon the North East Somerset communities outside of Bath is a central aspect of the work of Tourism Leisure and Culture division.

The document cites “evidence” and “studies” but gives no references.

Where the document talks about rural and urban divides in cultural provision it seems to us simplistic and muddled; people choose urban and rural location to live and each has built in advantages and disadvantages. City centre residents have ready access to more cultural offers but also have to tolerate close proximity to noise and anti-social behaviour.

The document concatenates cost and access to public transport and rural and urban living. Cost is an issue that transcends the urban/rural split there are many people living in Bath who find cost a barrier to attending cultural events. The public transport issue is more likely to be addressed by providing better more affordable public transport to take people to Bath than using council resources to scatter cultural events across BANES.

The document addresses how to make culture available to disadvantaged people but rather than discussing how to give disadvantaged people better access to culture falls back on taking about taking cultural events to areas where they live thus immediately closing off other options.

The public sector has a fairly poor track record in forecasting social trends and market mechanisms are much better at addressing this. For instance this document forecasts that Box Offices will fall out of use however the selection of ticket purchasing channels is, if history is any guide, likely be much more complex and diverse that this section “forecasts”. The market will decide the fate of Box Offices and there seems little to be gained by BANES attempting to second guess the outcome.

The strategy talks about considering and planning for how public transport might impact on start and end timings of cultural events. We think there ought, in addition, to be more consideration about how public transport availability should be changed to reflect the needs of people attending cultural events.

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Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Cyclists on Pavements

There is no doubt that cycling in pedestrian areas is a cause of annoyance to residents in the city centre. It is a particular concern when cyclists show a reckless disregard for the safety and opinions of pedestrians and are abusive when their offence is pointed out.

However in considering what should be done we need to recognise that pavement cycling is only one of a range of low grade antisocial behaviours that impact people in the city centre when allowed to escalate..

Inconsiderate cyclists sit alongside:

• inconsiderate smokers and gum chewers
• people who throw food wrappers and dinks containers
• people who urinate and vomit on pavements and in doorways
• fly tippers
• drunks shouting and fighting
• beggars
• people ringing doorbells in the early hours of the morning
• people who park on pavements

Tackling these issues is not straightforward; while the police have an important role to play the nature of these offences means that police alone cannot do the job. Indeed enforcement alone cannot do the job. There is a need for more effective:

• education about the harm caused and the legal penalties
• police monitoring of the levels of offending - these offences are under reported
• action by the police when they do observe offences
• coordination by enforcement agencies
• utilisation of council officials on the street
• engagement of residents as has been done over pavement parking
• vision, strategy and structures for managing the city centre

Friday, 16 July 2010

A-boards


BANES say they are developing a new policy on A-board advertising. In our view it cannot come too soon.

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Thursday, 15 July 2010

Cracked pavements

Walking around Bath one is struck by the number of cracked paving and kerb stones.

Much of this damage is due to people parking on pavements. As residents we suffer:

• from the unsightly and dangerous condition of the pavements

• the cost of the local authority repairs

• the loss of utility services because extensive vaulting in Bath means many are buried very shallowly

We welcomed and are active participants in the police scheme to provide residents with warning notices to put on cars as driver education is key to addressing the problem.

However, enforcement is also vital if this problem is to be addresses properly.

We would like to see the remit of the parking enforcement officers extended so that they routinely handed out warnings and penalties to drivers committing this offence.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2010

PROPOSED CHANGES TO PARKING AND RELATED FEES AND CHARGES 2010/11

Going Forward

• We support in principle proposed increase in the number and working hours of the Parking Enforcement Officers
• We are concerned about the likely impact of a refurbished Manvers Street Car Park on traffic flows
• We would welcome in principle the extension of Park and Ride to Sundays but in general we would like to see more discussion of how the charging strategy links into the wider transport strategy and in particular the provision of public transport

Park and Ride Charges

• We would like to discuss with BANES what their models indicate about the impact of fee increases on traffic coming into the city

Off Street Parking in Bath

• We support the principal of keeping on street parking more expensive than of street parking and off street parking more expensive than park and ride

Resident’s Parking Permits

• We understand the need for the charge to cover costs in the current financial climate and welcome the proposals to increase enforcement. We would however like to see this fee increase accompanied by proposals to increase the availability of parking spaces for residents in the central zone

On Street Parking Charges in Bath

• We would like to see these charges applied on Sunday as there is little practical difference in the use of cars in the city centre between Saturdays and Sundays

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Sunday, 4 July 2010

Consultation on the Closure of Pulteney Bridge

TARA is supportive of the Council's Public Realm and Movement Strategy and is in favour of careful management of how and when vehicles access the centre of Bath.

Pulteney Bridge and Pulteney Street are key heritage assets and they need protection against the impact of traffic both visual and physical. We also have long had concerns about pedestrian safety.

However, the closure of Pulteney Bridge would inevitably displace traffic to other areas and increase congestion and pollution in these areas. We were hoping for a meaningful consultation on this where BANES shared what their studies indicated about where the displaced traffic is likely to go and what plans they have for mitigating the impact on these areas.

Unfortunately such a discussion was not held and therefore there seems little value in the consultation process.

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Friday, 11 June 2010

The Komedia Licence Review

On reading the public statements by Komedia and its supporters we at TARA began to feel rather worried. Apparently they have discovered a conspiracy involving the police and local residents groups to tear a huge hole in the economic and cultural life of Bath by inviting the Licensing Committee to abolish Komedia. We had just started to have alarming visions of hundreds of vehicles turning away from Bath as the occupants learned that we would no longer be able to offer them the chance to see the “Ministry of Burlesques High Tease” or “Drags Aloud at the Movies” when we decided to go back and check what this committee was actually being asked to do.

Most residents, welcome a well run Cabaret venue in Bath. In particular we did welcome, with some reservations, the kind of establishment that was described when this venue applied for its initial licensing and permissions.

What we are asking now seems fairly modest. It is that in the light of reality, as documented by the police and experienced by residents, of how this venue has actually operated in using it’s licensing permissions that this committee reviews the terms of the license and in particular considers whether the very late opening hours are appropriate.

It was particularly interesting, reading Komedia’s submissions to the committee, to understand why these very late hours were so essential to delivering their contribution to the cultural life of the City. The explanation offered in their last submission appears to be that if they cannot offer very late drinking the Stag and Hen parties will take their pursuit of culture to other venues.

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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Police Resources and Visibility Working Group

TARA will be chairing a new working group focussed on city centre policing consisting of senior and frontline police officers and representatives of nearby residents associations and students. The terms of reference for the group are:

1. Make practical recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of policing in the centre of the city

2. Make practical recommendations as to how the police and other agencies can work together to improve the experience of people using the city centre

3. Support the development of a vision for the management of the night time environment in Bath which can be used to guide future planning

4. Suggest ways of improving public understanding of policing in the City

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Saturday, 22 May 2010

KOMEDIA

We support the police in calling for a review of the licence for these premises.

We have, as part of the planning process, raised resident’s concerns that the accumulated permissions and licences issued to this applicant would open the way, given the design of this building, to allowing the applicant to run late night events with very large numbers of young people and pointed to their advertising targeting students and vertical drinking. We understand the venue has regularly put out advertising promising cheap drink offers.

We have on previous occasions not opposed license applications because we were assured that this sort of event was not part of the venue’s business model. We understand that this assurance was offered to other interested parties.

In the event these assurances have proven empty and the venue is gradually turning into the sort of late night music and dance venue targeted at young people and fuelled by drink promotions that have become the focus of late night noise and anti social behaviour elsewhere in the city.

We do not need more venues of this type in the city. In particular these premises are close to a number of noise sensitive housing units and complaints of noise disturbance and anti-social behaviour have provided ample evidence of the need to review the conditions attached to this license to prevent them operating in this way in future.

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Sunday, 2 May 2010

A BID for Bath

TARA welcomes the news that efforts by our city centre manager, Andrew Cooper, to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) in the commercial heart of Bath seem likely to bear fruit.

In a BID the local business community agrees that a cleaner, brighter and safer environment is good for business and pools its resources so that more money can be spent on upgrading streets, pavements, lighting, signs and other infrastructure, on better street cleanliness and enhanced public safety. Obviously, though not subject to the BID levy on businesses, city centre residents and visitors can benefit significantly from the results.

The first BID was established in Canada more than thirty years ago and although the legislation to enable BIDs in the UK was not enacted until 2003 there are now close to 100 BIDs in operation in this country including thirty six in London alone.

Concerned at the meagre resources available to our city centre manager in Bath TARA carried out an on-line survey of similar operations in other parts of the country. This showed that the Bath public-private partnership, Future Bath Plus, is quite typical of similar organisations elsewhere, as is the role of our city centre manager which was described by one respondent as “a gadfly offering advice, pressure and encouragement where possible but living on wits rather than money.” This is fine but once administrative costs are taken care of there is typically little left for ‘projects’. To raise much needed funds many city centre managers across the country have BIDs or are actively preparing them.

In an era of impoverished councils a city centre BID in Bath offers perhaps the best hope of implementing the Council’s Public Realm and Movement Strategy, a complete transformation of the quality of our environment in the city centre of a kind which many comparable cities in the UK and, especially, on the continent completed many years ago. TARA supports the Public Realm and Movement Strategy (with qualifications) and, while it will be important to ensure that the particular concerns of residents are recognised, will do everything it can to encourage the city centre manager to persevere with the BID for Bath.

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Sunday, 21 March 2010

Proposed Experimental No Right Turn from Manvers Street to Dorchester Street

As so often with BaNES consultations it is very difficult to evaluate this proposal on the basis of the information provided. No evidence is given of current, or projected, problems in Dorchester Street or the extent to which these are, or may be, caused by vehicles other then buses and taxis. There is no evidence on the extent to which problems would be resolved by a right turn ban out of Manvers Street, none of the category of trips likely to be affected by the ban, none on alternative routes likely to be used by diverted drivers, none on the effect on their journey times and none on increased traffic levels on other routes.

Some city centre residents face the prospect of seeing their option of several exits from the city centre with traffic divided more or less evenly between them all effectively reduced to one exit - and this on a route which is heavily congested at times already. Added to this the extra traffic generated by the proposed Dorchester Street experiment (including eventually all the cars leaving the Manvers Street Car Park) and by the closure of Pulteney Bridge to traffic and they are likely to be face a serious and routine delays. The traffic lights allowing vehicles on to Pulteney Road only allow 2/3 cars through at a time (although going the other way quite a few cars can turn the corner into the city when the filter light is on), but there are many other problems on this route - open top bus crawling along, coaches/buses dropping/picking up at the sports centre and bus stops, lorries delivering to the clubs/hotels and traffic feeding in from the Sports Centre car park, the Cricket Club car park and the Court car part - often forcing their way out several at a time and not feeding in turn and many even wishing to execute a U turn back into town.

Drivers leaving the south eastern quadrant of the city centre, where TARA has many members, for the south and west will be considerably disadvantaged by the need to divert via North Parade and Widcombe. What gain it is anticipated this proposal will create is unclear from the information BaNES has provided. However, it seems to us unlikely that these will outweigh the inconvenience to residents and businesses in the city centre.

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

King Edward's School - TARA response to latest develoments

TARA, some of whose members attended King Edward School, would like to see this important building restored and brought into productive use. However, with alcohol-fuelled disorder and noise, with littering, public vomiting and urination particularly on weekend nights still among their principal concerns city centre residents will be seeking assurances that the applicant can be held to his undertaking to create a high class ‘boutique hotel’ in the centre of our city and not another large scale stand-up drinking venue of the kind that has been so damaging to the city centre in the past.

The applicant seeks a C1 (hotel) consent. It seems inconceivable to us, however, once the costs of restoration are taken into account, that the applicant could operate a viable business with so limited a number of rooms and that, consequently, substantial support will be required from non-resident use of the bar and dining facilities on the ground floor. The applicant cites Robert Raikes House in Southgate, Gloucester, as an exemplar. This business, owned by the same applicant, a brewer, and also a conversion of an important historic building, has had the benefit of planning consent as a ‘pub with conversion of upper floors to hotel accommodation’ since 2003. It does not, however, offer rooms, does not claim to be a hotel and is not listed as offering accommodation by the Gloucester tourism office. It seems reasonable therefore to conclude that the King Edward School application is effectively, not for a hotel with ancillary bar and dining facilities but for a bar-pub to be named the King Edward Tavern with ancillary bedroom accommodation on upper floors which may never be realised. We have calculated, moreover, that if furniture indicated on plans were to be excluded from the dining, bar and ‘parlour’ facilities on the ground floor, and the bar enlarged, from 300 to 400 drinkers could be accommodated in the building. This has the potential to be a disaster for an area of the city centre already overloaded with drinkers at weekends.

Aware of the concerns of residents and visitors alike Bath has in recent years recognised the need to curtail the introduction of large new drinking establishments into the city centre. A few years ago the Bath and North East Somerset Community Safety and Drugs Partnership (CSDP) collated information from a variety of sources which demonstrated that in Bath city centre ‘a defined geographic and temporal area experiences a significantly greater degree of alcohol related crime and disorder than the remainder of the authority area’. The Council accordingly resolved, on September 13th 2007, that inclusion of a Cumulative Impact Policy (CIP) in the Statement of Licensing Policy was justified. In areas covered by the CIP, which remains in force and includes Broad Street and George Street, licence applicants must now demonstrate that they will not materially add to existing problems of alcohol-fuelled disorder in the city centre before being considered for a licence.

The applicant does make reference to the effect of the proposed change of use on existing residential amenity, citing inter alia BaNES Local Plan Policy D2 Para 6.3 (f) and acknowledges that there are people living in the immediate area. It is important to remember, however, that a large premises offering alcohol for sale in the city centre can seriously harm the amenity not only of local residents but all those both living in and visiting a much wider area.

Having previously been inclined to give the applicant’s stated intentions the benefit of the doubt in the hope of at last seeing this important building restored and put to good use TARA now believes, on the balance of the evidence available, that the principal intention is to create a large new drinking establishment in the city centre. On this basis we have no alternative but to OPPOSE this application.

We consider this an important and controversial application and ask that, if the Case Officer is minded to recommend consent, it should be referred to Committee for decision. We ask, however, that if consent is granted whether for a pub, bar, hotel or any combination of these, conditions such as the following be imposed to ensure that the applicant’s stated intentions are realised and the concerns of city centre residents recognised

1. Substantial food shall be available to order from 12.00 noon each day until 22.00 hours Monday to Saturday and 21.30 hours on Sunday.
2. Alcohol shall be cleared away from consumption areas (with the exception of bedrooms/suites) by 23.30 hours Monday to Saturday and 23.00 hours on Sunday.
3. There shall be seating provided at all times for not less than 28 persons in the area marked ‘bar’ on the plans, not less than 60 persons in the area marked ‘dining lounge’ on the plans, not less than 8 in the area marked ‘front parlour’ (north) and not less than 12 in the area marked ‘front parlour’ (south) on the plans, and the courtyard area at the rear be predominantly seating.
4. There shall be only one bar servery, as shown on the plans, and this bar servery shall not be increased in size.
5. The Broad Street terraces shall not be used for the sale or consumption of alcohol or for smoking.
6. Consumption of alcohol in the rear courtyard area shall cease at 22.00 hours nightly.

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Sunday, 7 March 2010

Sightseeing in Bath - Part 1

Chewing Gum and waste bins in Westagate Street and chewing gum outside Sally Lunns


Saturday, 6 March 2010

Management of the Night Time Economy

Bath city centre is special and one of the things that make it special is the large number of people who choose to live in the heart of the historic city. It is also important for the city that we continue to attract people to visit the historic city both because of the economic benefits they bring but also because of the rich cultural life which they make possible.

Both these groups of people complain that they too often have to suffer the consequences of drink fuelled noise and antisocial behaviour in the city at night especially at weekends. The management of the night time economy is therefore a key issue for anyone who cares about Bath.

TARA is working with other stakeholders and the local authorities to improve the way in which the night time economy is managed and planned.

We support initiatives such as the Cumulative Impact Policy, Purple Flag accreditation, the City Centre Manager and the Kingsmead Square project. But we think there is a need much more effective coordination of the planning and enforcement agencies to deliver:

• A city centre which is seen to be safe and welcoming for a wide range of people;
• More smaller eating and drinking establishments catering to all age and social groups;
• A richer night time entertainment offer with less emphasis on noise and alcohol
• A significant reduction in drink fuelled antisocial behaviour;
• A significant reduction in noise for residents

In pursuing these objectives TARA:

• Works to achieve licence conditions which protect the interests of the wider community;
• Lobbies for better co-ordination of enforcement agencies;
• Works to oppose planning and licensing decisions which will expand the number of vertical drinking establishments and nightclubs in the city centre;
• Lobbies for more joined up thinking in planning for the evening and night time economy of the City centre

Thursday, 4 March 2010

OPA Bath Ltd: Proposed change of use from restaurant to mixed use as restaurant, bar and nightclub

This part of the city centre is primarily residential. The block on which OPA is located bounded by North and South Parades and Duke Street is entirely residential containing 65 apartments in 7 apartment buildings as well as a residential hostel for foreign students which has operated on North Parade above the subject premises since the late 1980’s The application, if granted, will cause significant harm and distress to these local residents by reason of intolerable levels of noise and disturbance. For some time, and on many occasions, local residents and local businesses have complained about the noise created by OPA’s operation; indeed they have been the subject of noise abatement enforcement by Environmental Protection officers. We know that local residents will be providing testimony to this effect for the Local Planning Authority to consider. The noise complained of derives from extensive noise leakage from OPA’s premises and noise created by, often rowdy and intoxicated, revellers entering and leaving the building and gathering outside on the pavement to smoke.

It is perhaps useful in this context to quote the Department of the Environment (now DETR) document Planning Policy Guidance:

“Commercial developments such as fast food restaurants, discos, night-clubs and public houses pose particular difficulties, not least because associated activities are often at their peak in the evening and late at night. Local planning authorities will wish to bear in mind not only the noise that is generated within the premises but also the attendant problems of noise that may be made by customers in the vicinity. The disturbance that can be caused by traffic and associated car parking should not be underestimated”


OPA has effectively become a nightclub by stealth. The case officer’s report on their previous application for the use of Parade Gardens as an extension area, 09/01794/FUL,heard in October 2009 contains numerous references to it being run as a bar/nightclub while only having planning permission for use as a restaurant. The most telling reference is in the third paragraph of page 6, “Therefore, this means that a change of use has most likely occurred from restaurant to restaurant/bar without the benefit of planning permission and can still be subject to enforcement action.” OPA now seek to regularise this use by this application. The premises were operated as a restaurant between 1983 and 2007 without adversely affecting the amenity of local residents and this is the appropriate use for these premises in view of the fact that “the premises are very near to premises that are used for residential accommodation” to quote the words of the applicant’s own solicitor.

If the application is granted a precedent will be set for other bars and restaurants elsewhere in the city centre to flout planning regulations, turn themselves into nightclubs and then seek retrospective planning permission. This is not fair to the majority of businesses who play by the rules and show respect for the planning regulations.

TARA has no objection to OPA operating as a traditional well managed restaurant similar to many others in residential areas of the city centre. Our objection is to OPA as a restaurant/bar and nightclub. This application for change of use threatens the delicate balance which exists between businesses and residents in this small and primarily residential corner of our city. This is a noise sensitive residential area and the imposition of a premises who seek to attract the nightclubbing crowd that already create problems in other parts of the city centre is wholly inappropriate

Monday, 22 February 2010

King Edward's School planning application

TARA, some of whose members attended King Edward School, would like to see this important building restored and and brought into productive use. However, with alcohol-fuelled disorder and noise, with littering, public vomiting and urination particularly on weekend nights still among our members principal concerns we would wish to see sufficient safeguards built into any consent to ensure that the applicant can be held to his undertaking to create a high class 'boutique hotel' in the centre of our city and not another large scale stand-up drinking venue of the kind that has been so damaging to the city centre in the past.

The applicant seeks a C1 (hotel) consent. It seems inconceivable to us, once the costs of restoration are taken into account, that the applicant could operate a viable business with so limited a number of rooms and that, consequently, substantial support will be required from non-resident use of the bar and dining facilities on the ground floor. It is our understanding that so long as rooms are on offer to the public the requirements of a C1 consent will be satisfied. We have calculated, however, that if furniture indicated on plans were to be excluded from the dining, bar and 'parlour' facilities on the ground floor, and the bar enlarged, from 300 to 400 additional drinkers could be accommodated in the building. This has the potential to be a disaster for an area of the city already overloaded with drinkers at weekends.

The applicant does make reference to the effect of the proposed change of use on existing residential amenity, citing inter alia BaNES Local Plan Policy D2 Para 6.3 (f)and acknowledges that there are people living in the immediate area. It is important to remember, however, that a premises offering alcohol for sale to the public can seriously harm the amenity not only of local residents but all those living in and visiting a much wider area.

We ask that if consent is granted conditions such as the following be attached to ensure that the applicant's stated intentions are realised

1. Substantial food shall be available to order from 12.00 noon each day until 22.00 hours Monday to Saturday and 21.30 hours on Sunday.
2. Alcohol shall be cleared away from consumption areas (with the exception of bedrooms/suites) by 23.30 hours Monday to Saturday and 23.00 hours on Sunday.
3. There shall be seating provided at all times for not less than 28 persons in the area marked 'bar' on the plans, not less than 60 persons in the area marked 'dining lounge' on the plans, not less than 8 in the area marked 'front parlour' (north) and not less than 12 in the area marked 'front parlour' (south) on the plans, and the courtyard area at the rear shall be predominantly seating.
4. There shall be only one bar servery, as shown on the plans, and this bar servery shall not be increased in size.
5. The Broad Street terraces shall not be used for the sale or consumption of alcohol or for smoking.
6. Consumption of alcohol in the rear courtyard area shall cease at 22.00 nightly.

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Tuesday, 9 February 2010

King Edward's School

A new attempt is being made to win planning permission for the conversion of the derelict King Edwards school in Broad Street into a hotel and bar.

TARA want to see this historic building being used once again and secured from the risk of further deterioration.

We have been reassured by previous discussions over the conditions likely to be imposed on any planning permission and licensing agreement relating to this important building.

We therefore support this project going ahead in principle; but will be closely monitoring the progress of the planning and licensing applications to ensure that the safegaurds discussed and promised previously are put in place in practice.

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Monday, 8 February 2010

Noise nuisance and the night time economy

Noise from late night drinking establishments in the City is regular cause of complains by both residents and visitors.

This noise nuisance derives from 3 main sources

1. People entering and leaving premises
2. People standing around outside premises
3. Music blaring from premises

People entering and leaving cause noise because:

• They are often in a noisy and boisterous mood and door staff do little to make them be quite
• The constant opening and shutting of the door lets the sound of music inside the building out onto the street and not infrequently on busy nights doors have been propped open; often in breach of licensing conditions

People stand around outside premises:
• To smoke
• To chat away from the noise inside the premises
• To get fresh air
• Because the have been refused entry or made to queue for entry

Door staffs rarely act to make these crowds of people behave and sometimes even add to the noise themselves. Police rarely intervene in these situations unless there is violence and sometimes not even then.

Music blares from premises:
• Because the music is too loud
• Because the type of music has being played has a heavy base line which transmits through and is amplified by the structure
• Because the doors are not kept shut

Most licensed premises have noise limiters fitted by environmental protection but walking the streets of Bath in the early hours provides evidence that limiters are ineffective. However, there is rarely anyone from the enforcement authorities out on the streets collecting this evidence.

TARA believes there is a need for the enforcement agencies to be much more proactive in all these areas to impact the noise issues associated nightclubs and late licensed bars.

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Sunday, 24 January 2010

Urban Gulls

Residents living in the city centre regularly raise their concerns about the gull problem and the costs and nuisance they incur:

• They defecate on buildings, cars and people.

• Faeces on the ground are very slippery, particularly in wet weather.

• The birds become active very early in the morning in the summer months, and residents are commonly woken in the early hours of the morning by screaming of gulls.

• Clearing up after these birds and, the often ineffectual, schemes to deter them cost a large amount of money

Bath’s economy is dependent on the spending of some 5 million visitors per annum. Feedback from tourists often refers to the nuisance from seagulls.

The number of breeding pairs is measured to be rising inexorably .At best counter measures are slowing this growth; at worse they are simply changing the way gull colonies are distributed.

Tara is supporting Bristol University’s application for funding to undertake much needed research into the behaviour of urban gulls

The Bristol University research proposal offers a real hope of gathering the information needed to target future gull prevention work more effectively.

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Comments on the proposed closure of Pulteney Bridge to traffic.

TARA is supportive of the Council's Public Realm and Movement Strategy and is in favour of careful management of how and when vehicles access the centre of Bath.

Pulteney Bridge and Pulteney Street are key heritage assets and they need protection against the impact of traffic both visual and physical. We also have long had concerns about pedestrian safety.

However, the closure of Pulteney Bridge would inevitably displace traffic to other areas and increase congestion and pollution in these areas. We would welcome further discussions with BANES about what their studies indicate about where the displaced traffic is likely to go and what plans they have for mitigating the impact on these areas.

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Sunday, 10 January 2010

TARA response to consultation on public toilet provision - key points

There has been an over-emphasis on the provision of public toilets in public parks at the expense of the commercial and heritage core of the city.

Better facilities are needed close to the main north-south commercial axis of the city centre (Milsom/ Stall Streets) and the main cross-routes (Westgate/Cheap Streets/ Upper Borough Walls)

Bath has a compact city centre with a relatively high number of residents and a high visitor density therefore a 200m access standard is preferred

At night the patterns of demand for toilet facilities in the city centre change. Large numbers of mainly young people are on the streets moving between pubs, bars, clubs and fast food outlets. It may be that temporary toilet facilities are most appropriate for the night time economy and we believe the facility at Orange Grove need to be retained and extended to three other areas: South Parade (taxi rank) Kingsmead/Sawclose and George Street.

The Partnership/Community Toilet Scheme is a promising idea but private sector partners will need to be far more welcoming to the public by providing accessible and well signed locations.

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Saturday, 9 January 2010

City Centre Pollution

Nitrogen dioxide levels along most of the main roads in Bath city centre are 50% above the Government limit of 40 micrograms/cubic metre, at which pollution is considered to be a potential health risk.

Most of the pollution in Bath city centre is caused by traffic and TARA is pressing for more to be done to control traffic in Bath and to monitor the health impact on local residents.

The Bath Transport Package and the ideas floated in the recent consultation on measure to address pollution are useful and important contributions.

However we are continuing to press for more for more urgent action to:

• Restrict traffic and especially through traffic.

• Reduce the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles.

• Improve public transport

• Undertake studies on the impact of pollution on the health of city centre residents

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