Thursday, 19 September 2013

Place Making Plan

Of the five development sites in the city centre identified in the Launch Document we have selected for comment the two most relevant to our members’ concerns, SB1, the Cattle Market site, and SB3, Manvers Street. In both cases we have used the council’s Core Strategy Document (Policy B2) and Place Making Plan Launch Document as a frame of reference.


1.      This is a transitional site which acts as a bridge between the commercial heart of the city and the Walcot Street area of residential streets and small, independent enterprises including pubs and restaurants and many craft and home related service businesses.  Development of Site would provide an opportunity to establish a more effective link between these areas reducing the current relative isolation of Walcot Street and improving pedestrian flow to and from the city centre.  Development of the site should emphasize mixed uses with residential uses predominating but with a continuous commercial frontage on Walcot Street combining small and medium sized units.  While there could be a case for replacing the Hilton Hotel on the site in general large or multi-occupancy uses should be avoided.

2.      Building massing should reflect the character of the surrounding area with building heights limited to four levels above Walcot Street grade.

3.      Traffic congestion on Walcot Street already ranges from moderate to severe throughout the day.  Any mix of uses for Site SB1 should aim to reduce to a minimum the need for on-site parking and any temptation to continue to use this area as a parking resource for the city centre as a whole should be avoided.

4.      Public access to the riverside must be protected.  There could be a case for extending the riverside walkway north from Pulteney Bridge but if further extension to Beehive Yard and beyond proves impractical, as seems likely, then a suitable destination for pedestrians should be provided within the site.  This could, for example, take the form of a riverside park with moorings and a pedestrian bridge across the river to St Johns Road could also be considered.

5.      Any development of the site needs to incorporate a satisfactory role for the Corn Market building which has been in a derelict and unsightly condition for too long.  Considering the numerous failed attempts to identify a future for this important building  an agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 covering a larger area of the site may need to be considered.


6.      The Manvers Street site has two principal characteristics.  The northern part of the site, currently mainly a car park with adjoining police station, has external linkages mainly to hotel and residential development to the north (South Parade) and west (Manvers Street), with some supporting commercial frontages but only limited links to the city’s retail core to the west.  With its two churches and mosque the emphasis here should be on residential development with commercial uses limited to supporting retail and services and the opportunity should be taken to provide a more appropriate setting for St John’s church. Building massing should reflect the height of buildings on South Parade and Manvers Street

7.      Bounded by the river and the railway the southern part of the site has limited external linkages and is dominated by the Royal Mail sorting office and some commercial office development.  Larger industrial and commercial uses would be suitable here and there is an opportunity to create a pedestrian link to the station from the north.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Meeting with Julie Girling MEP

We and CARA approached Julie Girling MEP to set up a meeting to share our concern about the high levels of pollution in Bath which are damaging the health of people who live and work here and are damaging the historic buildings which are at the centre of the city’s economic prosperity.

We approached Julie as a member of the European Parliament with  known concern with environmental issues.

BANEs, in common with many others, appear to have be in breach of European directives on this issue but appear to be doing little to remedy their breach. The EU appears to be accepting this situation far too easily.

BANES has a notional plan for addressing the issue of air pollution but appear to do little more than monitor pollution levels, expand the area under management and move the dates on all other action back another year.

The meeting took place on the 6th September and Ms Girling has undertake to put forward the Parliamentary Question to the Commission with regard to the air quality in Bath and to have a further meeting with us to plan future actions.

The OPA planning Appeal

In July 2010 OPA applied for retrospective planning permission for change of use from restaurant to mixed use as a restaurant, bar and nightclub.  This was refused.  

Since this decision OPA has continued to operate as a nightclub in defiance of the committee's decision.

Finally a Development Control Committee meeting in June this year decided on enforcement action and B&NES sent out the appropriate notice telling OPA to stop operating as a nightclub within 21 days from 7 August. 

OPA has appealed against this order and a Planning Inspector has been appointed to hear the appeal. TARA has made the following representation to the inspector.

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 although we understand that due to the disturbance created by the nightclub ASI has had to suspend the use of rooms in the hostel.

 These premises cause significant harm and distress to local residents by reason of high 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. 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 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 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.

 If the appeal is granted a precedent will be set for other bars and restaurants elsewhere in the city centre to flout planning regulations, and turn themselves into nightclubs.  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 appeal if granted threatens the delicate balance which exists between businesses and residents in this small and primarily residential corner of our city.