Caroline Kay made a powerful statement to Council Members at the Development Control Committee meeting in February 2015, warning the Planning Authority of the potential risk or cumulative harm to the World Heritage Site caused by the piecemeal approval of mediocre design responses. It seems this had some effect and resulted in the case officer recommendations to approve developments at Pinesgate and the Grand Parade Colonnades being overturned and refused by the planning committee. As in most cases the Trust is in favour of the principle of development and has engaged in the development of proposals at an early stage.
The Archway Centre (Summer 2016)
The Trust has been pleased to support the planning application for the Archway Centre in Swallow Street which will incorporate a World Heritage Site centre with education spaces. This project, which is supported by HLF grants, will open up more areas of the Roman Baths as well as allow for much increased education and interpretation activity regarding the WHS. The scheme is situated in the Old Laundry on Swallow Street and will include a contemporary extension echoeing the rooftop water tank of the old laundry building.
Walcot Yard (September 2016)
A scheme for 7 townhouse style dwellings is proposed on the backlands site of the old ‘Walcot Rec’. Unfortunately the proposals include the demolition of the old workshop building due to its instability. The Trust’s main concern regarding this scheme is the further loss of artisan workshop space that is cumulatively eroding the traditional artisan industry character of Walcot Street. Whilst we understand the need for residential units, we question whether some provision could be made for ground floor creative workspace in order to maintain at least some of the character of this important historic street. You can read our full comments here: Walcot Yard
Colonnades – Grand Parade (May 2016)
In Spring 2016 a new application for restaurants and a museum space within the Colonnades was submitted. The Trust has objected to this application on the basis that we cannot see how any scheme in the Colonnades can be a success unless a higher level masterplan for open access from Parade Gardens and the overall area (including the historic Boatstall Lane and the Victoria Art Gallery) is produced. We do however welcome the opening up and revitalisation of this important heritage asset. Our full response is here:Colonnades Grand Parade.
In July 2016 the scheme was considered by the Development Management Committee and it was permitted. The Trust is disappointed that B&NES has not take the opportunity here to ensure that this historic area becomes fully accessible to the public, as it stands the space will be mainly exclusive to restaurant goers.
Hinton Motors (Pegasus Homes) – Upper Bristol Road (Jan 2016)
The Trust has commented on design and height/massing issues with this development for assisted living units with a wellness centre and café in a prominent location near the city centre. The Trust supports in principle the development of this site and the repair of the streetscape. We have some concerns outlined in our response: Hinton Motors site and in a subsequent comment: Hinton Motors2. In May 2016, after further revisions to the scheme, we submitted a further comment: Hinton Motors 3.
In July 2016 the scheme was refused by the case officer on the basis of harmful impact on the surrounding historic area and riverside, partly from building heights. It has now gone to Appeal.
The Old Gas Works – Windsor Bridge (Jan 2016)
The Trust commented on this application that whilst we have no serious reservations design-wise and we noted that pre-app comments on design issues had been taken into account in the final submission, we did have concerns about the proposal for a wholly student use for this site in this mixed use neighbourhood. You can read our response here: Old Gas Works site. In July 2016, after revisions to the scheme, we submitted a further response in which we objected to what we see as a step backwards in terms of the treatment of the riverside blocks. You can read this response here: Old Gas Works.
In July 2016 the scheme was refused on the basis that a complete student accommodation development would detract from much needed local housing supply in this area, and that the proposed riverside blocks remained too high and thus harmful to local character.
Pinesgate (Dec 2015)
December saw the submission of a new planning application for the Pinesgate site. The Trust still has serious concerns about the overbearing height, scale and bulk of the proposed development. You can read our response here: Pinesgate response 12.15. In February 2016 the application was heard at Development Management Committee and despite the case officer’s recommendation to refuse (and the objections of the Urban Design Officer and Historic England amongst others) the scheme was permitted by the committee. The Trust has contacted the DMC members to raise our serious concerns regarding the soundness of the decision and the potential significant harm to the World Heritage Site and conservation area that this scheme will cause. The Trust has also requested that the decision be ‘called-in’ to the Secretary of State for review but unfortunately this request was refused.
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