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
- 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.
- 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.