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 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.
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.
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.