The proposed development site is the former Mini and BMW dealerships on the Lower Bristol Road. The Mini dealership already fell within the boundary of the Western Riverside masterplan, which had already secured a Reserved Matters planning permission for Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) at a maximum of five storeys. Since planning permission was granted, works are ongoing to demolish the existing industrial buildings on the site ahead of development.
2020/2021 – Pre-Application Consultation & Planning Application for High-Density Redevelopment of Brownfield Site
BPT was consulted early on proposals for the redevelopment of the BMW and Mini car dealerships (summarised as the Dick Lovett site) on Lower Bristol Road in early 2020. It was proposed to bring forward a mixed-use development of approx. 130 student bed spaces and 300-400 residential ‘units’.
BPT initially had strong concerns regarding the principle of student accommodation on this brownfield site. Whilst we welcomed the principle of residential housing, we pushed on details such as space standards, ensuring a good housing mix to meet varied demand in Bath (family housing, etc.), and the provision of appropriate outdoor amenity space. At this stage, we had initial concerns regarding the high density of development on the site and the close proximity of the Lower Bristol Road elevations to the pavement, the scale and height of the development, and the proposed use of materials.
Full application 20/03071/EFUL for the development of 343 residential units and 335 student bed spaces was submitted in August 2020.
BPT was, and continues to be, supportive of the principle of redevelopment on this brownfield site. However, we could not support proposals due to the proposed height, scale, massing, and density of development which would constitute overdevelopment of the site. The scheme would introduce incongruous materials into the city in its excessive use of brick. Overall, we felt the development would not reinforce local character and distinctiveness and would result in cumulative harm to views in and across the World Heritage Site.
Read our response to the 2020 planning application here.
Read our accompanying press release here.
In 2021, BPT made a statement to Planning Committee calling for the application to be refused. However, councillors voted to permit the scheme. It was concluded that whilst not policy-compliant, the scheme would provide a good mix of sustainable accommodation to enable people to live in Bath who may not otherwise be able to do so. The proposed design was considered by the Local Planning Authority to be an enhancement to the World Heritage Site beyond the existing condition of the site.