Sunday, 22 August 2021

Motorcycle parking

One of the issue which the recent parking consultation seems to have failed to address is the anomalous position of motorcycles.

Despite their negative environmental impact motorcycles continue to be able to park in the city free of charge. This is a facility which they exploit to its fullest extent. We find motorcycles occupying car parking spaces and very dangerously cycle racks including cycle racks on pavements.

As well as occupying the cities limited parking spaces free of charge, irrespective of their emissions, many of them seem to have disabled or circumvented the sound control measures on their machines and create considerable noise nuisance.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Security Zone Update

While it is clear that hardly anybody buys the justification for the security scheme proposed by the police which manages to be both objectively oppressive and inadequate when judged against recent attacks. It is also clear that the Council lack both the authority and political will to oppose it. So it is now time to focus on the issues of implementation.

Bath is very fortunate in having a wide variety of people that have chosen to live in the historic city centre. This is something that many cities have spent large sums of money trying to achieve and there are too many example of historic cities and tourist destinations that have lost their inner city residents and paid a heavy price.

Too often in Bath people who actually chose to live in the City come bottom of the list of stakeholders to be taken into consideration in creating and implementing policy. The city centre security proposals are yet another example of this. The original proposals were developed with minimal consultation with residents and the publicity sought to downplay negative impacts. As a consequence they largely failed to acknowledge issues for those with limited mobility and dumped almost all the responsibility for coping with the negative impact on residents. This dereliction of responsibility by BANES was most clearly manifest in the ludicrous proposed arrangement for deliveries and property maintenance.

While the access consultants did a good job of starting to identify problems their terms of reference constrained their conclusions to a focus on the most disadvantaged and then only a subset.

What is needed now is a proper consultation with all affected residents proactively working to identify problems that will be created and identifying ways in which the local authorities will seek to take responsibility for implement schemes to minimise those impacts and associated costs.

Monday, 14 June 2021

7 BLADUD BUILDINGS Planning Application ref: 21/02476/REM

The applicant seeks the removal of part of Condition 5 attached to an existing, but un-realized, planning consent 18/04797/FUL which would convert the use of the premises from night club (sui generis) to pub (A4).  Among features proposed is a partially roofed outside drinking area at the rear of the property in what is presently the ‘garden’, the ‘Pergola,’ and an open area extending to the south boundary.  

Due to noise nuisance from high volumes of traffic on the Paragon many Bladud Buildings residents have their bedrooms at the rear of the property.  In addition, the main Bath YMCA building is a short distance to the south west.  Finally, numbers 45 and 47 Walcot Street, which incorporate existing and proposed residential accommodation on upper floors, occupy a position immediately to the south of the premises.  This is therefore a highly noise sensitive location, particularly at night, and the introduction of an open, or partially open, drinking area at the rear of 7 Bladud Buildings is likely to have a severely adverse impact on the amenity of local residents contrary to Policy D6 of the council’s adopted Placemaking Plan.

The premises licence at 7 Bladud Buildings provides for closing times for the sale of alcohol of 02.00 Monday to Thursday, 03.00 Friday and Saturday and 22.30 on Sunday but makes no separate reference to the open area at the rear.  In considering application 21/04797/FUL the Council was therefor right to impose Condition 5 which specifies that ‘The external area at the rear of the premises hereby permitted shall be closed to the public and cleared by 23.00 hours from Sunday to Thursday and Bank Holidays and by 00.00 hours on Fridays and Saturdays and the use of this outside area shall cease twelve months from the date the approved use commences unless a further permission is granted’.  The effect of Condition 5 with its reference to re-application after twelve months omitted as requested by the applicant, is that the alternative available to the LPA, should the applicant fail to comply with the time limits specified, would be enforcement action, a time-consuming and sometimes complex process which could subject local residents to a prolonged period of noise and disturbance at night. 

The applicant has it in his power to ensure continued use of the rear of the property by complying fully with the requirements of Condition 5 while making a timely application for a further consent.

TARA asks that Condition 5 be retained as it stands and that the above referenced application be REFUSED.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

TARAs response to the Atkins City Centre Security Access Report

Comments by TARA:

It seems to us that Atkins have done a reasonable job with the limited brief they were given and while we might quibble with the details and limitations of their recommendations the council has provided an inadequate forum for doing this.

We would however, like to highlight two observations they report:

1. "It seems like this is just tinkering with traffic management without any overall plans for the City Centre - What is the vision for what kind of City Centre we want?" 

This for us seems to be a key observation and should form a starting point for a new consultation.

2. The state of the pavements and the muddle of street furniture are a constraint on any access and mobile plans for the city centre. 

We note that there are large sums of proposed expenditure for "active" travel schemes most of which is planned to be spent of specialist cycling infra-structure. We would contend that much of this expenditure would be better directed at improving the ability of pedestrians and disabled people to move around the city.

Finally, reading officers analysis of the consultations responses make it clear that there is a bias in designing consultations to making them easy for officers to analyse at the expense of offering residents the widest range of options for participation. This is a bias which, in our view, should be corrected. 

Saturday, 22 May 2021

TARA’s Response to the Parking permits consultation

Parking is a considerable problem for people living in the city centre as many do not have access on-site parking.

Successive administrations have failed to provide spaces consistent with the number of permits issued. These spaces have been further eroded by “temporary” pedestrianisation, pavement widening and parklets as well as a policy which allows unfettered free use of on street parking by motorcycles. Proposed LTNs, the security zone and electric charging points etc will all potentially make the problem worse.

In the past handing out large numbers of permits to hotels, guest houses and holiday lets has eaten into the already inadequate provision in the city centre so we welcome the proposal to restrict the use of these to off street carparks.

We oppose the proposed emissions based charges for residents permits because it is inequitable to penalise residents when you allow private cars to drive into the CAZ without charge irrespective of their level of emissions.

Residents in the heart of the city have never had the benefit of visitors permits.

The arrangements for traders in the city are already a mess. Some companies will not service city centre addresses and the proposed security zones and LTN’s will make this worse. Charging traders more and continuing with the high level of bureaucracy will increase the number of these and increase the number of those who park in residential streets in outer zones to avoid charges.

Overall these proposal are likely to make very little difference they are just tinkering with the problem of parking in Bath. What is required is a root and branch reappraisal of parking policy supported by research and proper consultation.

This is yet another questionnaire, filled with leading questions masquerading as a consultation. It also discriminates against the digitally excluded. The inability to submit responses outside this online mechanism is unreasonable and unfair. The online mechanism itself barely acknowledges  the existence of representative organisations it has forced us for instance to declare whether TARA considers itself disabled.

Saturday, 8 May 2021


The applicant seeks consent for change of use from hospital (D1) to a 160 bedroom hotel (C1) with ancillary uses including a restaurant/café (A3).  The proposal appears in general to be consistent with the Council’s Core Strategy Plan (2014) and Placemaking Plan (2017) and we have no objection in principle to the change of use.

We acknowledge that the applicant has made a serious attempt to address issues relating to the proposed extension to the south of the west block of the existing building which were the principal cause of the refusal of the previous application.  In broad terms these issues were consistent with matters raised by this association in its submission during the consultation stage.  These included concerns over the bulk and mass of the building in its context and the potential loss of amenity by local residents caused by overlooking and light deprivation and noise disturbance from south facing bedrooms.  We concede that the proposal to place the extension somewhat further north, the stepped profile, mansard roof and absence of south facing windows provide a reasonably convincing solution to these problems.

There are two outstanding matters, however, that in or view remain at issue

  1. Benefit to the community.  Although efforts have been made to make historical artefacts and references in the building accessible to the public the opportunity to incorporate a publicly accessible open space in development on the south side of the existing building has been missed.  The ‘glimpse’ of the proposed garden from Bridewell Lane and to a lesser extent from Parsonage Lane, is not good enough for Bath with its world-wide reputation for excellence in urban design.  There should be a small urban park for general use incorporating a pedestrian link between Parsonage Lane and Bridewell Lane with a new entrance from Bridewell Lane open to the public at least during daylight hours.  In addition, there should be increased emphasis on planting and bio diversity in this space and less on hard surfaces.

  1. Accessibility.  It is no fault of the applicant but in the context of the Council’s proposed city centre security zone whose detailed workings are, as we understand it, still unresolved proposed arrangements for access by guests and others to the building by car and taxi appear unworkable.  As things stand, access to the building from a dropping off point a minimum of 100 meters from the entrance or specific permission on a case-by -case basis seem unsustainable even as a temporary arrangement.

We therefor ask that a decision on the application be DELAYED until satisfactory arrangements are in place to create a publicly accessible space and pedestrian link at the rear of the existing building and there are workable arrangements for providing access to the hotel.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Planning Application 21/00692/VAR. KING EDWARD SCHOOL

The applicant seeks modifications to proposals approved in 2013 (13/02136/REN), a renewal of 10/00041/FUL including the removal of Conditions 4,7,10,21 and 22.

This association has long sought the restoration of this important building. We have in the past had serious reservations about whether a large drinking establishment, even in the form of a boutique hotel, would be a suitable use for the building particularly in light of the challenge posed by the night time economy to city centre residents.  Cooperation between the public and private sectors combined with sustained public pressure and media coverage over the past decade have brought about much improved management of the night time economy.  We are also mindful of the pressing need for fresh investment in the city centre following the Covid 19 pandemic and the relatively high quality of the work done by the applicant in similar circumstances elsewhere.

We therefor have no objection to the modifications proposed or to the removal of conditions 4, 7, 10 and 22. 

We do, however, object to the removal in its entirety of Condition 21 relating to limits to the patronage of the rear courtyard area.  As we have stressed previously, the use of this large area by excessive numbers of drinkers could seriously harm the amenity of the occupants of the twenty to twenty five apartments in the immediate area.  This would risk setting an unwanted precedent in other parts of the city centre as well as being contrary to Policy D6b of the Council’s adopted Placemaking Plan which requires that development not ‘cause significant harm to the amenities of existing or proposed occupiers of, or visitors to, residential or other sensitive premises by reason of loss of light, increased noise, smell, overlooking, traffic or other disturbance’.   It has been for this reason that TARA has in the past pressed for limits to the number of patrons allowed to use this area at any one time and we believe that the Council was right to impose Condition 21 limiting numbers to 96, and to insist on its retention subsequently, and we ask that it continue to do so.