Thursday, 30 April 2020


The applicant seeks to vary some details of, and certain conditions attached to, an existing but un-realized, planning consent 18/04797/FUL which sought to convert the use of the premises from night club (sui generis) to pub (A4).  Among features that would be retained in the present application 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.

It was for this reason that TARA posted an objection to the previous application and asked that, should consent be granted, certain conditions be attached which would have the effect of protecting local residents from unreasonable noise and disturbance, particularly from the rear of the property, during night time hours. 

The present applicant now seeks amendments to eight conditions attached to the original consent granted March 21st 2019.  

We request that where the applicant provides information in support of his request, and the LPA is minded to grant consent, those standards are met that would have applied had the applicant submitted material in an application to discharge the conditions, and that sufficient information is provided on plans and documents to enable compliance to be assessed.  This applies particularly to Condition 2 (materials to be used), Condition 3 (Noise from ventilation and extraction equipment), Condition 9 (Hard and soft landscaping), Condition 11 (Emergency exit) and Condition 13 (external lighting).  We also ask that Condition 12, which relates to the emergency exit at the rear of the property, remain unchanged with the exception of the drawing number revision.

The applicant also seeks removal of that part of Condition 5 which specifies that that use by the public of the unenclosed area at the rear of the premises will cease automatically after twelve months unless a further consent is granted. 

TARA asks that Condition 5 be retained as it stands.

The effect of Condition 5 with its reference to re-application after twelve months omitted, 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 with the requirements of Condition 5 while making a timely application for a further consent.

TARA further requests that any approved plans indicate clearly the area to which Condition 5 relates.  This should cover all un-roofed and unenclosed areas to which the public has access at the rear of the property including the ‘Pergola,’ which may be open or enclosed depending partly on weather conditions.  We also ask that the LPA satisfy itself that within the area to which Condition 5 applies roof and wall materials meet satisfactory standards of noise attenuation.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

20/00127/FUL 75 ROSEWELL COURT - An Update

On March 16th, under delegated powers, our council granted consent for the conversion of a two-bedroom flat at Rosewell Court in the city centre to an HMO (Home of Multiple Occupation).  This approval was retroactive, in that the conversion had already taken place but the law required that planning permission should have been applied for and granted, had not been, and needed to be.
As is normal, the council based its approval on its policy decisions in relation to HMOs.  These include Policy H2 of the council’s Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan which, inter alia, is designed to ensure that an HMOs will be ‘compatible with the character of adjacent uses’, will not ‘significantly affect the amenity of adjoining residents’ or result in the ‘unacceptable loss of accommodation in a locality in terms of mix, size and type.’  In addition, the council’s Supplementary Planning Document, Homes in Multiple Occupation in Bath, adopted in November 2017, is intended to ensure that similar undesirable consequences are avoided by preventing the accumulation of HMOs beyond a specified limit in any particular residential area.
On the face of it, and in normal circumstances, the application of these laudable principles in combination should underline that the council has consistent objectives in relation to HMOs and that, provided that its policies are enforced, these objectives will be met.
But these are not normal circumstances.  Providing about two hundred and twenty homes, mostly two and three-bedroom flats in four to five-storey buildings with balcony access Rosewell Court makes an important contribution to the limited supply of affordable family accommodation in the city centre.  The conversion for which planning consent has been granted has transformed a typical two-bedroom flat into a three-bedroom unit with a single bathroom and no shared space of the type favoured by short term renters, holiday renters and students.
In approving this conversion, the council is in danger of bringing about the exact opposite of what its policies are designed to achieve.  Having set a precedent, the council will find it hard to resist pressure from other owners to follow suit.  Rosewell Court has a history of serious social problems including drug dealing and abuse, petty crime, noise and disturbance and other forms of anti-social behaviour resulting in police visits.  Any accumulation of HMOs in a development that lacks any shared external facilities other than a council car park will be likely to make all these problems worse.  In due course, if HMO conversions multiply, the council may feel justified in refusing further applications.
Unfortunately, none of these arguments appear to have been seen by the Development Management Committee (other than the Chair) despite a request for referral by a Ward Councillor, objections by TARA and local residents were ignored and, inexplicably, as principal landlords at Rosewell Court, neither Curo nor the council itself elected to comment.  
To TARA, this seems to amount to faulty administration.  There is no right of appeal in England to the granting of a planning consent except under Judicial Review.