The University of Bath’s Claverton Campus is located approximately 2.5km to the east of Bath city centre on Claverton Down, which borders the World Heritage Site to the south, and the Green Belt and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to the west. The Public Inquiry into the 2007 B&NES Local Plan resulted in parts of the campus being removed from the Green Belt. Development on this site is sensitive because of the impact on views from the surrounding area. Light pollution from this elevated position above the World Heritage Site remains a concern, as is the impact of taller buildings.
2021/2022 – Proposals for Increased Floodlighting of University Sports Facilities & Concerns about Visual Harm of Lightspill
From 2021, there have been growing concerns with the volume of floodlighting on the University campus and the impact this may have on the surrounding landscape. Application 21/01862/FUL sought to regularise unauthorised floodlighting on the southern ball courts, which was later permitted at the end of 2022.
A second application 22/04720/FUL was submitted for works to improve the University’s outdoor sports facilities on the south-east corner of the campus, proposing “recyclable all-weather turf pitch and Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA)” with associated floodlights. BPT highlighted the potential for cumulative harm with the observable increase in light spill and ‘sky glow’ on the Bath skyline, in conjunction with permitted floodlighting on the neighbouring ball courts. Increasing light spill would be of detriment to the landscape setting of the World Heritage Site and dark skies character of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and would harm wildlife habitats and biodiversity.
Read our objection response here.
The application was referred to Planning Committee with a recommendation to delegate to permit. BPT spoke against the application, highlighting the consequences the proposals would have on Bath’s designated landscapes and the natural environment. Read our Planning Committee statement here. Councillors discussed the scheme, noting the case officer’s statement that the application as submitted would be compliant with site allocation policy SB19, and no objections had been raised by the B&NES ecologist. The scheme would have associated benefits of freeing up existing grass pitches for the construction of new student accommodation (not included as part of the proposals). Several Councillors expressed concerns with increased light spill and resulting impact on bat populations, but the Committee ultimately voted to permit the application.
The application was referred to the Secretary of State, who decided not to call the application in, in favour of leaving the planning decision to the Local Planning Authority.
BPT launched our Rewilding the Night campaign to bring attention to worsening light spill and light pollution across Bath’s landscape setting. We further released an open letter with recommendations on the installation of external LED lighting to minimise unnecessary light spill.
BPT has published a Dark Skies Position Statement, setting out BPT’s consistent approach to achieving high standards of design and a sustainable future for Bath, and outlining details of the best practice measures and objectives to conserve and enhance the dark night sky.
Find out more about Dark Skies here.
2021 – BPT Responds to Local Plan Partial Update
In January 2021, the Local Plan Partial Update was released for a public options consultation. This included proposed revisions to Policy SB19 for the Claverton Campus site to bring forward approximately 870 study bedrooms and 48,000 sq.m. of academic, research and support space on campus. The proposals can be summarised as following:
- Redevelopment of the surface car parking at the East Car Park to provide new academic, research or support buildings of up to 3-5 storeys.
- Rationalisation of the eastern playing fields/sports pitches and car parking to develop student accommodation blocks of up to 4 storeys.
- A new 4/5 level multi-storey car park at the existing surface car park at South Car Park.
- A new multi-storey car park at the existing surface car park at West Car Park. The car park will be flanked by an academic, research or support building on its eastern edge.
- The landscape setting of the campus will be sustained and enhanced, and will not be subject to development.
- Potential redevelopment of the Sulis Club within the parameters of the NPPF.
This is in conjunction to proposed amendments to Policy B5 to further restrict PBSA development within the city centre, which BPT wrote in support of at the public inquiry.
2018 – BPT Responds to University Masterplan Consultation
In 2018, BPT responded in the detail to the consultation on the new 2018 university masterplan. We had considerable and well-publicised concerns regarding the flurry of Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) applications coming forward in the last few years on the city’s brownfield sites. Therefore, our primary issue regarding the masterplan was the absence of student numbers. The masterplan did not include any data on the university’s growth targets and any statistics on how many students the university is looking to accommodate on campus and how many will need to find off-campus accommodation (this figure currently stands at 18% of students housed on campus). We clearly emphasised that these numbers must come before and inform any type of forward planning about development on campus.
We concluded that if the university wished to achieve growth targets that would impact on the available land in the city earmarked to contribute for strategic growth (housing and employment) then the university must:
- Shoulder a considerable burden of development on campus (i.e. intensify the built campus), and/or
- Temper those growth targets according to what the city can accommodate without the population or land use of the city becoming skewed and the balance of communities being impacted negatively.
One particular form of development we would wish to see is low-rise accommodation built over car parks, using the air space within the campus. The university was already suggesting decked car parking, from which this would only be a small logical jump.
Read our March 2018 consultation response here.
Following consultation, an emerging Masterplan was released in October 2018. It highlights potential on-campus development opportunities, but emphasises that these would still be subject to standard planning procedure and feasibility assessment before development could progress.