41 Milsom Street, City Centre
41 Milsom Street forms part of a cluster of Grade II* Georgian buildings called the Somersetshire Buildings, situated on a significant Georgian highway within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. The area is valued for its intact depiction of Georgian monumental town planning and Neo-classical architectural design, as well as being a popular commercial street with sightlines into the city centre.
BPT supports the principle of maintaining a busy, vibrant city centre through the prevention of vacant retail units that in the long term can detract from the character, appearance, and welfare of the public realm.
However, in a primary retail area/shopping frontage such as Milsom Street every effort should be made to retain retail and active frontages. We are concerned regarding the proposed conversion of A1 & A3 units to a B1 function; we feel an application for ‘mixed use’ or a mix of commercial uses specified including B1 (active frontage, A1 and A3, would enable a greater degree of commercial flexibility without resulting in the permanent loss of retail space along Milsom Street.
We would like to emphasise that the gradual movement of A3 units to areas within the city such as SouthGate, Kingsmead Square, and Sawclose does not adequately justify the removal of A1 and A3 units from Milsom Street, an area that remains popular due to its mix of shops and restaurants. We would further like to clarify the Commercial Statement’s incorrect claim that 39 Milsom Street has been left vacant following Natwest’s closure; the building has consequently been occupied by The Ivy, and has remained a popular and thriving aspect of the high street.
Therefore, whilst we do not object to the usage of long-standing, empty units as office space, if long term retail occupancy cannot be justified we would advise the application of a mixed or dual use consent instead to prevent the permanent erasure of Milsom Street’s available retail and restaurant space, and the consequent degradation of historic character.