Street Record, James Street West, City Centre
The proposed site for the installation of a Water Refill Unit is along James Street West, opposite the City of Bath College. The site is positioned within the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site, and features as part of the setting for several Grade II buildings including 22 Westgate Buildings, and Abbey Church House.
In principle BPT is very supportive of the public provision of Water Refill Units; we feel that this is a marked improvement to the amenity of Bath’s public realm for tourists and locals alike, and is a positive step towards reducing the use of single-use plastic throughout the city in light of the current Climate Emergency.
However, we are aware that whilst this application is for a single Unit installation, this will likely establish a design precedent for future installations and their associated planning applications. Therefore, the Trust would emphasise the importance of selecting a design and colour palette that best complements the existing public realm to ensure a consistency of appearance throughout the conservation area, whilst mitigating any visual impact to the setting of Bath’s listed buildings in accordance with Policies D1, D2, D4, and D10 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.
Consequently, the Trust has no objection to the proposed cylindrical design of the Unit, nor the use of powder-coated stainless steel; the examples of similar fountains installed in Salisbury and Glasgow appear to be matt, however this aspect of the design does not appear to have been clarified within the application.
With regard to the colour, we feel that the tone of blue (Gentian Blue) provided within this application’s elevations is not in the spirit of Bath’s character. The tone is too bright, and consequently too conspicuous. The Trust maintains that aspects of the public realm including shop fronts and street furniture should utilise a colour palette that best complements Bath’s palette of natural colours and materials. Bright colours, whilst felt to be commercially justified, will instead clash with the city’s more muted use of colour, and result in invasive visual harm to the streetscape. BANES’ Street Furniture Pattern Book instead advises the use of “cool dark blues” that will better harmonise with the existing street scene whilst remaining visually distinctive and interesting. We would therefore encourage the selection of a more suitable shade of blue, such as Prussian Blue, although considering that Kingsmead Square is the only example of blue public infrastructure in Bath, we would even encourage that other, more suitable colour schemes are considered as part of this application, to ensure that the potential installation of more Water Refill Units will suitably blend with the existing visual fabric of Bath’s public realm.
We would additionally advise that a more formalised font is selected for use on the Unit to ensure a tidy and professional aesthetic finish. We feel that a standardised font would also be easier for members of the public to read, and would therefore be in the interests of public amenity and accessibility.