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Monday, 28 December 2015

Issues going into 2016

Pollution remains a major concern and once the saga of the Eastern Park and Ride is finally resolved we need to continue to move forward to improve the air quality of the city centre. We believe the council need as a matter of priority to look at:

- The feasibility of creating a low emission zone to speed up the upgrading of commercial vehicle fleets using the city centre

- Reducing the number of vehicles circling the city looking for parking spaces by providing more  off-street parking and improving the signage

- Creating a properly researched year round coach management strategy

- The creation of a by-pass

CCTV is an increasingly important part of the effective management of crime and antisocial behaviour and we are working with the council to create a process for reviewing the way the CCTV deployment strategy is managed, developed and financed.

We continue to monitor and comment on the emerging Regional Planning and Transport Strategies and in particular:

- The need for the region's broadband delivery infrastructure to be included in the transport strategy

- The need to include the protection of historic buildings in the spatial plan.

- The need to consider community stability in both plans to ensure that unique communities such as that of Bath City Centre are not damaged.

- The need to reflect the importance of tourism to the region.

- Pollution priorities should be revised in the light of research showing that diesel particulates are the most dangerous pollutants where human health is concerned.

- The debate about affordable housing needs to be much clearer about the relative importance of rental against owner occupation.

- The plan needs to reflect the increased forecasts for numbers of students and have a clearer view about how these increased numbers will be accommodated.

- The need to acknowledge the fact that the growth in knowledge-based digital industries which has become central to the economic success of the region is fundamentally dependent on the quality of life that the region creates for residents.

We are concerned about the management of the street scape and in particular:

- The management of cycling and cyclist in the city centre

- The control of A Boards

- What is going to replace the public realm and movement strategy and address the issues it was set up to tackle.

Event management and public consultation prior to events need to be improved.

We have been lobbying our MP about the obvious weaknesses in licencing law particularly those highlight by the sorry history of OPA.

The policing of the city centre in the light of police reforms is something we are continually monitoring. We are also campaigning to get better police consultation and crime reporting procedures.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

West of England Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study Consultation

We attended this event in company with other members of the CCAG.

The background for this event can be found at the website https://www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk/consult.ti

The four West of England authorities are working together to prepare a Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study which will set out a prospectus for sustainable growth that is intended to allow the area meet its housing and transport needs for the next 20 years.

Issues we raised during the consultation event included:

  1. The need for the region's broadband delivery infrastructure to be included in the transport strategy.
  2. The need to include the protection of historic buildings in the spatial plan.
  3. The need to consider community stability in both plans to ensure that unique communities such as that of Bath City Centre are not damaged.
  4. The need to reflect the importance of tourism to the region.
  5. Pollution priorities should be revised in the light of research showing that diesel particulates are the most dangerous pollutants where human health is concerned.
  6. The debate about affordable housing needs to be much clearer about the relative importance of rental against owner occupation.
  7. The plan needs to reflect the increased forecasts for numbers of students and have a clearer view about how these increased numbers will be accommodated.
  8. The need to acknowledge the fact that the growth in knowledge-based digital industries which has become central to the economic success of the region is fundamentally dependent on the quality of life that the region creates for residents.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Skateboarding

Skateboarding in the City presents a number of problems and challenges.

Boarding on the road is frightening for drivers and dangerous for the skaters, for example, skateboarders regularly travel at speed the wrong way round the one way system at the Guildhall.

Skaters on pavements often travel at speed weaving through pedestrians which is obviously dangerous and frightening.

Skaters often make use of steps and other street furniture to practice jumps and tricks both damaging the street furniture and making considerable noise.

The council has now spent a considerable amount of money creating a skate park where skaters can practice the sport safely and without causing nuisance or danger to others.

This being the case we think it is high time that the council and police took steps to clamp down on skateboarding in the city centre.

Friday, 16 October 2015

European Research suggests P&R will make significant impact on city centre traffic

We support an eastern park and ride as this type of facility close to the city centre has been show to significantly reduce the number of vehicles that enter the city centre. 

The European Journal of Transport and Infrastructure Research figures suggest a P&R of 1400 spaces as proposed in Bathampton will see over a quarter of a million fewer vehicles entering Bath per year as a result.

We believe the damage to peoples health should take priority over a view. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Eastern Park and Ride Consultation

If members want to see an Eastern Park and Ride included in the measures designed to reduce pollution in the City they need, before the 18th October 2015, to respond to the councils consultation, tell our MP and our Councillors or the consultation will be heavily distorted by the organised lobbies set up to opposed such a move.

It is important that the voice of City Centre resident's is heard as loudly as those from outside Bath. It is those in the City Centre whose health is being damaged by pollution.

We believe people's health is more important than the views from a relatively small number of houses.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

A Response to the Eastern Park and Ride Proposals

We strongly support the need for Park-and-Ride facilities to the east of the City.

We prefer the site which has the greatest capacity and which is most potential for later expansion. On the information supplied that appears to be Site F. However, it is extremely difficult for the average citizen to evaluate the pros and cons of the three sites.  An expert would take at least a day even given all the necessary data.  The council should have carried out this evaluation, come to a conclusion and recommendation and put that out to consultation

The selected site should operate for 7 days a week until late, with secure overnight parking, to enable its use by evening visitors and those staying overnight in Bath. The public transport to and from the city centre should use low emission vehicles, and be inexpensive to use.

Our concern is pollution and its reduction in the short term. One of the factors that increases pollution in the city centre is people driving around the city seeking somewhere to park. While we applaud the plans to build more out of town parking, we also recognise that people need to and want to drive their cars into the city.

We therefore believe that it is important to have better planning for what to do with vehicles coming into the city that need to park. We would therefore like to see:
  • More parking capacity in the city centre, perhaps by adding another layer above or below Charlotte Street
  • An end to giving planning consent to hotel developments which have no parking provision
  • A proper strategy for managing coaches visiting the city
  • A firm principle that parking spaces cannot be removed without a plan to provide additional capacity elsewhere
  • That on street parking should be primarily for residents' use but with clear allocation of bays that businesses can use for their customer loading and collecting

Our research also shows that a key factor in reducing pollution from vehicles in the city centre is reducing the amount of stop start driving they do. This means removing unnecessary obstructions, for instance, reducing the number of traffic lights, and ensuring traffic lights are better coordinated to avoid the build-up of queues.



Friday, 2 October 2015

Bath City Forum

Clearly the Bath City Forum is not an ideal solution nor does it go very far in addressing the Bath governance issue.

However, creating a subcommittee of the Council made up of Councillors with Bath city constituencies to focus on Bath city issues and make authoritative proposals to full council about the how to address city problems and opportunities does make some sense.

To assist in this work it might also have made sense to set up links between key organisations in the city, such as the BID, CCAG, BTP, Police etc., and forum members. This might, in part, have been achieved by inviting groups to nominate representatives to sit in on Forum discussions.

We are considerably less clear why the council has gone down the route of advertising for individuals to apply for co-option to the subcommittee. The pool created are self selected and represent only themselves. And who gets to select from this rather narrow pool who will actually be co-opted to membership of the Forum? How can they be deselected? Who, if anyone, will they feel answerable to?

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Aqueye some reactions

On the face of it this project offers a number of benefits:

  • An interesting and innovative attraction to bring visitors to City
  • A project which will tidy up a neglected area on the river
  • A project that will potentially find a use for the long neglected Bog Island
Clearly there will need to be much thought about the visual impact of this on a very sensitive part of the World Heritage Site. We note that BPT have questioned whether this is the right site.

As resident's we have some immediate local concerns which need to be properly addressed:
  • Privacy issues for those buildings and gardens which will be overlooked
  • Details of proposed operating hours
  • Noise impact of the machinery particularly on takeoff and landing
  • How crowds, both riders and viewers, will be managed to minimise disruption in an already well used and difficult to manage part of the city
  • What traffic implications will there be during construction and later operation?
  • This is yet another proposal affecting this small area of the rivers so far we have the Rugby Stadium, the Stadium riverside, CART's plans for the riverside, the Colonnades development and flood prevention works plus any impact of the EDZ. Who will be overseeing all this and making sure it all works together for the benefit of Bath?
  • The docking station on Parade Gardens slope and would have to be to  be above the high flooding level we experienced a couple. We monitored that level closely and it was up to  the path, which means a docking station would almost certainly preclude the ‘under the colonnade area’  being used as one of the PG wedding venues as currently advertised. Also it would have to rise vertically to avoid the raised wall/railings. We need to understand how close that would be to some of our members apartments in the Empire. 
  • We are told that the flight path would not be near the Empire (by written agreement) technically it could get to within 26 metres of it. We understand most planning would set a limit of 23m or 70ft for normal structures. The structure itself is much longer than 26m.
  • What safeguards prevent Aqueye being flown accidentally in the wrong direction into the Colonnades when taking off or landing?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Location of Trade Waste Bins

Trade waste bins are large and often cause problems. They block highways and access to premises, they are often dirty and smelly and the attract litter and vermin.

We are told bins have to be on the streets because business have no room to store them on site. This argument often feel rather weak to flat dwelling city centre residents who are expected to find space to store their rubbish  within their homes for a week.

Many bins are located near listed buildings and in conservation areas.

One thing we have been unable to establish is how decisions about the location of trade waste bins are made and by whom.

We think this process need to be more transparent and involve consultation with residents and other businesses in affected areas.








Thursday, 13 August 2015

Smoking and the problems it creates in the city centre

Bath is littered with cigarette debris, despite constant appeals to smokers to dispose of their litter responsibly. This litter is unattractive to look at and expensive to clear up.

Smoking also creates another problem in the city centre. Considerable strides have been made in reducing the nuisance cause by the operations of late night bars and nightclubs and most of the remaining nuisance is caused by groups of people congregating outside. This problem is largely created by people going outside to smoke.

This is a problem both for neighbours who have to put up with the noise and litter created and licensees who incur additional security cost and heating costs.

We believe the time has come to consider following other countries and communities and ban smoking in all public spaces including our streets.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Pollution, parking and traffic flows

One of the factors that increases pollution in the city centre is people driving around the city seeking somewhere to park. While we applaud the plans to build more out of town parking, particularly to the east of the city, we also recognise that people need to and want to drive the cars into the city. We therefore believe that it is important to have better planning for what to do with vehicles coming into the city that need to park. We would therefore like to see:
  • More parking capacity in the city centre, perhaps by adding another layer above or below Charlotte Street
  • An end to giving planning consent to hotel developments which have no parking provision
  • A proper strategy for managing coaches visiting the city
  • A firm principle that parking spaces cannot be removed without a plan to provide additional capacity elsewhere
  • That on street parking should be primarily for residents' use but with clear allocation of bays that businesses can use for their customer loading and collecting
Our research shows that a key factor in reducing pollution from vehicles in the city centre is reducing the amount of stop start driving they do. This mean removing unnecessary obstructions, for instance reducing the number of traffic lights, and ensuring traffic lights are better coordinated to avoid the build up of queues. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Holiday lets and party houses

Holiday lets in a residential setting, if they are badly managed and policed, cause misery for residents with noise, abusive language and behavior, litter and children being exposed to overtly sexual behavior particularly if the let is to hen and stag parties.

Existing noise and anti-social behavior legislation too often fails to help residents.

This is particularly the case in BANEs where numbers of police and local government officers working on Public protection and anti-social behavior are at historic lows.

We think landlords who want to pursue this lucrative business model should as a minimum:

  • Have to apply planning permission for change of use
  • Pay business rates
  • Be held responsible for the behavior of their tenants, preferably with the sort of financial bond system in use elsewhere 
Ideally, we would like to see the introduction of a proper licencing regime for anyone proposing to offer this sort of very short term let.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

PACT

The city centre PACT meetings use a lot of police resources, the last meeting had four officers in attendance. This at a time when the police are saying they are significantly under strength.

Given this, we think it is important to pose the question. Does it deliver what residents want and need?

The turn out at PACT meetings is low and mostly the same group of people.

PACT tends to debate, often at length, two types of issue:


  1. Very specific local concerns which probably would be better reported by using other processes such as 101.
  2. Very large complex issues such as begging and street drink or the night time economy. These issues are rarely soluble by police action alone but other agencies rarely attend. There is almost never time to discuss them in any detail and the meeting is rarely given enough information to make an informed judgement about priorities.
The second type of issue is often being discussed in more detail in other forums and requires a much more deliberative discussion to arrive at any meaningful conclusions.

We think the time has come to scrap PACT and look at creating better reporting systems and more multi-agency and more deliberative forums.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Notes for our meeting with the EU Environment Commissioner

The council does have an air quality management plan but this has not been updated since 2011.

The focus for the council has been on creating a long-term traffic management strategy. The strategy has now been agreed but we are still waiting for the strategy implementation planning process to start.

The political leadership of the council has recently changed and prior to the election, the winning party published a list of shorter-term traffic management policies which we attach.

Our concern as residents, we have over a 1000 members who live in the city centre, are:

1. The apparent lack of urgency in addressing the problem

2. The lack of budgetary provision for the AQMA plan

3. Inadequate monitoring of air pollution
        a. All measurements are taken well over head height
        b. The smallest and most dangerous particulate matter is not measured at all

4. The apparent ineffectiveness of the EU directives

5. The focus on long-term traffic management as being the solution rather than for instance:
        a. Short term traffic management interventions such as changing traffic light priorities
        b. Planning regulations to improve air flows in streets
        c. Pollution extraction through either technology or biological means

6. A lack of investment in research both about potential solutions and the health impacts and costs of the current pollution levels

7. The economic impact of pollution on a city whose economy is dependent on tourism and knowledge-based industries and which is a custodian of world heritage assets

8. The lack of pollution control consideration in the several major developments being proposed

We would like to see the commission:

1. Put more pressure on the UK authorities to address these issues with greater urgency

2. Work with Bath stakeholders, in particular, Bath University, to create a case study which could provide useful information and guidance on best practice to cities across Europe

On this latter point, we believe Bath would be a good choice because in one place you can look at pollution impacts on residents, tourists, businesses and heritage assets.

Members of the CCAG 
including 
Ian Perkins Chairman of TARAwith 
EU Environment Commissioner Vella, Julie Girling MEP
 andTim Warren Leader of BANES Council


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Cowshed licensing application

These premises, which are subject to the council's cumulative impact policy provisions, are very close to a number of residential properties.

All these peoples' homes are subject to listed building regulations and, therefore, have great difficulty insulating themselves from external noise and this also imposes limits their ability to secure their home from other forms of intrusion.

The front of these peoples' homes is already subject to a great deal of drink-fuelled noise and anti-social behaviour from surrounding licenced premises and their customers.

This proposal if approved would add additional drink fueled disturbance at the rear of these premises and further reduce residents' quality of life. The numbers proposed are very large.

We would add at this point that noise pollution is not just a matter of not having your sleep disturbed but the quiet enjoyment of you home at all times.

We would ask the committee to refuse this application.

If however, the committee is minded to grant we would ask:

1, That the numbers involved be reduced substantially we would suggest by 50%

2. That the committee mandate the use of sound absorbing parasols, such as are in use elsewhere in the city centre, of a specification agreed with environmental protection.

3. That a member of staff should be on duty outside at all times after 5pm



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Text Reporting

Much anti-social behavior is not reported and the reason for this is largely to do with the onerous nature of reporting processes. People are unclear about how to report things and who to report them too. When they do report they often find the processes involves long delays either to get through or in preliminary questioning prior to being able to say what they want to report. Often as in the case of aggressive begging reporting is difficult to do while the offender is still in sight.

One of the consequences of low level of reporting is that authorities, who all tend to work from statistics on reported incidents, under-estimate the size of the problem and over-estimate their success in addressing the problem. These estimates then flow through into decisions about levels of resourcing and deployment of resources.

To address this issue British Transport Police have been very successfully trialing texting both as way of reporting incidents and communicating with witnesses and victims.

We have been asking both BANEs and Avon and Somerset Police to look at BTP's system with a view to trialing it in Bath.

Monday, 30 March 2015

CCTV

Residents are currently facing a large number of changes in the way in which Bath is policed and CCTV will play an increasingly important role in the deployment of limited resources. 

With this in mind we are working with other members of the CCAG to create a fund to buy new CCTV cameras and expand the network. 

Our initial priority is to extend coverage north of George Street which is an area that attracts more than its fair share of anti-social behaviour and drug dealing and also provides an escape route for troublemakers in the rest of the city centre. 

We have already had offers of support from local business and will be lobbying the local authority and the Police and Crime Commissioner to match our efforts to increase the safety and security of the city centre.

An ideal opportunity?

BANEs for some years wanted to introduce a weight limit on Cleveland Bridge and Warminster Rd. This proposal has been consistently opposed by Wiltshire because of the anticipated impact of such a scheme on Westbury which means they cannot get agreement on the route of a bypass.

We would seem to have an ideal opportunity to test Wiltshires position by having either the Highways Agency or the Highways Authority carry out a traffic survey around Westbury whilst the A36 is closed for remedial work.

The results of this work should assist all parties to move the discussion forward and move us all nearer to a solution.

We are writing key officers and politicians  in the hope and expectation that they can ensure that this gets done once the A36 work starts or indeed confirm that plans are already in place. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING 2015

The Annual General Meeting of the Abbey Residents Association will be on Thursday April 23rd at 6.30 pm at St Michael’s Church, Broad Street.


AGENDA

1.            Apologies

2.            Minutes of the 2014 meeting and Matters Arising

3.            Chairman’s Report

4.            Treasurer’s Report

5.            Election of Officers and Committee

6.            Any Other Business

Following the meeting

A hustings arranged by the City Centre Action Group will be held

MEET THE CANDIDATES

CCAG

THE CITY CENTRE ACTION GROUP
BATH

THE ABBEY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
THE CIRCUS AREA RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
THE PULTENEY ESTATE RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION


MEET THE CANDIDATES


Following the Annual General Meeting of the Abbey Residents Association the CCAG will hold a hustings
on Thursday April 23rd at 7.30 pm at St Michael’s church, Broad Street, Bath
The meeting will be attended by candidates for the two Abbey Ward seats for the Council elections to be held May 7th. 

Brian Webber, Conservative
Louise Bray, Liberal Democrat
Manda Rigby, Liberal Democrat
Peter Turner, Conservative
Johnathan Carr, Green
Laurel Casserley, Labour
Jenny Knight, Independent

Each party will have up to three minutes, if they wish, to address the meeting, then the meeting will be opened up to questions from the floor.

Speakers and Guests who are not members of TARA should attend at 7.30.  A lift is available for those who need it and wine will be served at the end of the meeting.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Regulation in theory and practice

We have had a number of discussions with Councillors and officers about regulation where they seem to confuse the fact that regulations exist to control something with whether something is actually being regulated in practice.

The latest example arose in conjunction with the consultation over busking where we pointed out that a number of other people and groups created noise which adversely affected others quality of life and in particular licensed premises who blare music onto the streets in the early house of the morning. We were told that the latter did not need to be discussed as the were "already regulated".

A walk down George Street, North Parade or Pierrepont Street in the early hours of Saturday or Sunday morning would quickly establish that this is not the case.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

The Colonnades planning decision

There was much relief among Empire residents on the evening of Wednesday February 11th when the Development Control Committee at the Guildhall turned down the council's application to develop vaults below Grand Parade as two high end restaurants.  Working with Empire residents TARA had hoped for a successful defence of their interests but did not expect the application to be defeated outright.  After all, the council as landlord, developer and planning authority had promoted the scheme and the planning application at considerable public expense for months.  In the event both ward Councillors, Manda Rigby and Brian Webber were critical and not a single Councillor voiced serious support.  This was an exceptionally surprising and unequivocal result whose cause remains something of a mystery.


And it leaves us without perhaps the single gain that the proposals could have offered: public access, at last, to the Colonnades.  Parade Gardens should embrace rather then turn its back on the river and the Colonnades should be seen as an extension to the gardens, a weir-side promenade linking through to Boat Stall Lane and Slippery Lane.  Amid the wreckage of the council's efforts, TARA will continue to do what it can to promote this vision.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

TARA’s Response the BANE’S Place Making Plan

A PLACE TO LIVE IN

One of the things that make Bath special is the number and social diversity of people who choose to live in the historic heart of the City. They play an important role in creating the vibrant community and culture that attracts knowledge workers and industries to locate here and the maintain many of the Georgian buildings that draw tourists here in their millions.

We think it is important that this plan explains how residents will be supported, what sort of place BANES is aiming to create for city centre residents and how BANES plans to preserve and maintain the things that resident’s value.

We would like to see for all the key sites and areas a statement of what the impact on residents is likely to be both in the short and long term.

SB1a and SB1b  WALCOT STREET/CATTLEMARKET

In general TARA supports both the analysis and the proposals that flow from it which are in line with recommendations made by us in September 2013.  We endorse, for example, the suggested mix of uses, the need to repair the ‘broken frontage’ on Walcot Street, preserve views across the site to the east and conserve and find a viable use for the Cornmarket building.  We support the emphasis on variety in the form, function and scale of buildings and the need to provide two east-west cross routes to improve vehicular access to the site.

However we notice some confusion and lack of clarity in suggestions for building height restrictions and the river corridor.  Limiting building height to that of local Georgian buildings is recommended but this is not typical of Walcot Street where buildings range in height from two to four storeys as well as in date of original construction.  Furthermore, because of the pronounced fall in the site from west to east higher buildings would presumably be acceptable on the east edge of the site.  We believe that higher buildings could also be acceptable on the west edge of the site if set back from the building line provided functional continuity is achieved.

The need to extend the riverside pedestrian route northwards from Pulteney Bridge is acknowledged but it is not clear whether continuing this route north of the Cattle Market site is envisaged. If not, then a publically accessible space should be provided as a destination on the river bank adjacent to the Cattle Market possibly incorporating a new pedestrian cross route linking Walcot Street with St John’s Road via a new pedestrian bridge across the river.  ‘Privatization’ of the river bank should be avoided at all costs.

SB2 CENTRAL RIVERSIDE AND RECREATION GROUND

In general TARA supports the analysis and the proposals but we suggest that the following points be taken into account as proposals are finalized.

The Colonnades

The council is currently seeking planning consent for enabling works in relation to the development of the vaults below Grand Parade for high end dining facilities (14/01772/REG03).  However, proposals included in the application documents (Design and Access Statement, page 13, Use of the Colonnades) envisage that the public would have no right of access to the south colonnade even during daylight hours when Parade Gardens are open to the public.  This effective privatization of part of the Colonnades would be in direct conflict with proposed Development and Design Principals 1 and 3 where the opening up of historic pedestrian routes in the area is rightly emphasised; it would be unacceptable to our members and we believe that, given the substantial expenditure of public funds on the development, the wider public would be likely to share this view.

Pedestrian river crossing

Given that Site SB2 occupies a strategic position between the recreation ground and the city centre we believe that cross-river links, particularly for pedestrians, are insufficiently emphasised.  A recent study of the traffic implications of the additional 4,300 supporters likely to converge on the new stadium on busy match days (assuming it is built) concluded that the main impact would be, not in enhanced congestion on city centre streets, but in a marked increase in pedestrian traffic in areas around the stadium.  Links to the stadium for pedestrians are currently poor, relying too heavily on flights of narrow, twisting, stone steps leading to the river bank from Argyle Street and North Parade.  A new foot and cycle bridge across the river linking the stadium and other recreation facilities with the commercial heart of the city to which many supporters are drawn during their stay should be given serious consideration.  This might be provided in conjunction with proposals to provide improved links between Terrace walk and Parade Gardens and between Parade Gardens and the river, or possibly as an extension eastwards from South Parade.

Radial Gate

Whether or not the radial gate is removed or renovated the potential of the island linking the radial gate with Pulteney Weir should have been explored.

SB3  MANVERS STREET

We accept the analysis but with qualifications.  Proposals for the most part consist of options and qualified principles reflecting an inherent, and perhaps justifiable, confusion over the role of the site.  Where more definitive guidance is provided, for example over routes serving or crossing the site, there is sometimes confusion over purpose and Intentions.  For example

Roads and Access
A north-south extension of Duke Street ‘must be provided’.  This is to be designed as a ‘shared space that also potentially allows limited vehicular access to the rail station’.  It is not clear what this means.  Could a north-south traffic route serving the entire area be upgraded to relieve pressure on Manvers Street?  If so could this serve the site with a series of loops which might render the east-west route, which is also proposed, unnecessary?

A new pedestrian and cycle route across the river is proposed.  We support this but do not see why it should be ‘connected to the existing railway bridge’.  Could it not extend eastward from South Parade providing a more direct link between the rugby stadium/recreation facilities and the rail and bus stations which are used by large numbers of fans on busy match days.

Land Use

We agree that the site should be regarded as a ‘Gateway’, a new commercial quarter linked to Bath’s rail/bus hub and consisting of a complex of small industrial units, offices and workshops but we see no reason why other uses such as residential and local retail should be excluded.  Neither do we see why a hotel or major public institution such as an auditorium would be incompatible with this vision.

Public Spaces and Building Massing


A significant ‘public space’ is envisaged responding to South Parade, Duke Street and St John’s Church.  It is not clear what the function of this space would be and it is arguable that the space between buildings on this site could consist of a finer grained network of pedestrian and cycle routes providing a chain of more intimate spaces.  It is also envisaged that Zone 1 building height limits should be adhered to ‘subject to modification’ and that Bath stone should be used throughout.  We see no justification for imposing such disciplines.  The emphasis in our view should be on variety and flexibility in the form, function and scale of buildings as well as in the materials with which they are finished.  And we suggest that more attention could have been given to the river bank as a green edge and as part of the pedestrian/cycle network serving the wider area.

Monday, 19 January 2015

PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE COLONNADES

In a further review of documents which, as we understand it, are likely to be approved should this application be granted planning consent we have noted a reference in the Design and Access Statement (Page 13, Use of the Colonnade) to the possibility that the public would have no right of access to the south colonnade even when Parade Gardens is open to the public.  We recognise that there are legal constraints but given that the council is landowner, developer and planning authority in this case, considering also the substantial expenditure of public funds on the development and the expressed desire to open up historic riverside routes to public use we can confirm that this effective privatization of a part of the Colonnades would, if implemented,  be unacceptable to our members and we believe that the wider public would be likely to share this view.


We therefor ask that should the council be minded to grant consent for this proposal a condition be imposed providing that no development can take place until the applicant has submitted a statement to the satisfaction of the Local Planning Authority detailing who would have right of access to pedestrian routes throughout the development, at what times and under what circumstances.  This would provide an opportunity for much needed public debate of the issue.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Regulation and enforcement

Without an effective enforcement regime in place all other regulations and regulatory actions become meaningless. For instance:

All licensed premises should be made to adhere strictly to their licence conditions. However licensing officers only inspect premises relatively infrequently and often not during the hours where breaches are most likely.

All licensed premises should comply with planning conditions but decisions of the planning authority are too often flouted for considerable time before effective enforcement action is taken.

Excessive noise from music, observable both on the street and in the nearest premises is routine in the City centre in the early hours of the morning. However, Environmental Protection Officers are not available at all at night when most noise nuisance happens. Environmental protection is not proactive in enforcement only acting on reported nuisance. Other enforcement agencies, such as the police, on the whole ignore noise as an issue

The Council’s Air Quality Management plan calls for improvements to the enforcement of the Traffic Regulation Orders designed to reduce pollution from heavy goods vehicles and with rising levels of pollution damaging both human health and the historic fabric of the city implementing these improvements is long overdue.

Parking on the pavement causes obstruction, particularly for people with disabilities and causes huge damage to pavements and other public infrastructure however nobody seems to take responsibility for stopping people doing it or penalising them when they do.


BANES spends large amounts of money clearing up litter but little resource stopping people dropping litter in the first place


Too often regulations are made with little or no planning of how they will be enforced - A Boards and 20 mph zone spring to mind. This does nothing for the credibility of the regulators or the regulations and leaves residents feeling short changed and abandoned.


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Proposed Public Space Protection Order



Banes is currently running a public consultation on a proposal to ban on the use of amplifiers in the following locations: Abbey Church Yard, Kingston Parade and Abbey Green. This would be achieved by putting in place a Public Space Protection Order. You can access this consultation at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/consultations/196642/webform and we would urge you to do so.

The criteria for issuing a Public Space Protection Order are:

  • That the activities i.e. the use of amplification have had a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality
  • The activities are persistent or continuing
  • The activities are unreasonable
We do support the introduction of a PSPO to control amplified busking around the Abbey but we are a little puzzled both by this proposal and the consultation.

We receive numerous complains about amplified music affecting peoples lives. We also know that BANES in its various manifestations receives large numbers of complaints about amplified music .

Only a relatively small proportion of these complains are about buskers or relate to the areas mention in this consultation.

Most relate to businesses, typically licensed premises, in areas like George Street, the Parades, Manvers Street, Bladud Buildings etc. Many of these complaints report that the use of amplified music particularly late at night is having a very detrimental on their quality of life, many complains have a history going back years and it seems to us unreasonable that any business should be using amplification at a level that impacts their neighbours.

Over the years Banes has done little to address many of these complains or tackle these problem areas. This is why we are puzzled that they are now proposing action in these limited circumstances and in these limited areas.

We do of course welcome the fact that they are at last starting to tackle the problem but hope that the action will not stop with this very limited first step.

Monday, 5 January 2015

The Public Realm and Movement Strategy

The Public Realm and Movement Strategy was created at considerable expense to improve  the quality of environmental design and management, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, on city centre streets.

This strategy was generally well received and made a promising start but seems to have run out of money and political support.

In consequence our city centre still fails to meet standards which are commonplace among European peer cities and well short of what one would expect from one of the few cities in the world to have been awarded World Heritage Status.

Why has this been allowed to happen>