Installation of a water refill unit (Resubmission).
Our Response

The proposed site for the installation of a Water Refill Unit is on New Bond Street, within the historic core of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. The Unit would be installed outside of the north elevation of 2 New Bond Street a Grade II listed early 19th century terraced building with a retail ground floor, that forms part of the wider Grade II streetscape in this area. This area of pavement forms part of a significant pedestrian connection between Milsom Street and the historic city centre of the Conservation Area and World Heritage Site; the pavement forms a wide curve following the line of the built terrace before narrowing into a more constricted footway along New Bond Street. It is positioned adjacent to the area of open paving that forms a plaza-style area of public realm outside 16-17 Old Bond Street with associated seating and planting, which is typically used by pop-up stalls and for art/music performances. This area of pavement is typically characterised by the use of space immediately outside of shops for associated signage/advertisements, as well as specific areas of outdoor seating associated with food and drink venues. There is a distinction made between pedestrian and vehicle routes expressed by a line of traditional-style bollards along the pavement edge.

BPT has previously responded to an increasing number of applications for the installation of water refill units throughout the city centre; our definitive comments with regards to the established appearance, design and finish of the proposed units was set out in response to application 19/05415/FUL. A water refill unit was permitted in stainless steel with a satin black finish (RAL 9005). This application has consequently been referred to as a template in design, materiality, and appearance for multiple proposed water refill stations within Bath.

In principle, BPT is 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.

We note that improvements have been made with regard to the revised proposed location, as an amendment to earlier application 22/04560/FUL. Whilst the area of pavement selected appears to be approximately the same width as previously proposed, the unit would be located against the road edge in order to retain adequate clearance for pavement users and avoid creating obstructions along a busy route into and out of the city centre. The proposed unit would appear to sit just out of line with the existing bollards already in situ.

We do continue to maintain some concerns regarding the selection of installation locations in relation to the existing historic sensitivity of the city centre, where the unit would be installed directly in front of a listed building and on a significant historic street, though this should be appropriately balanced against the proposed degree of public benefit. It is further recognised that there are limited opportunities for installation within the city centre without impinging on the setting of a listed building, though proposals should seek to minimise harm or target areas assessed to be of lesser significance wherever possible.

Considering the increasing number of applications for similar installations, it is recommended that a city-wide scheme or masterplan for proposed installation points is compiled to better illustrate how these points can be best located to serve a maximum number of users without compromising the qualities of Bath’s public realm.

We continue to recommend that the LPA considers the proposed installations in relation to existing principles within the Pattern Book of shape, design, materiality, and colour, and how these applications would establish a city-wide appearance and function new to Bath’s public realm. We feel this should therefore be integrated into future revisions of design guides and pattern books to ensure control over predicted future installations or alterations.

Application Number: 23/02881/FUL
Application Date: 03/08/2023
Closing Date: 15/09/2023
Address: Street Record, New Bond Street, City Centre
Our Submission Status: Comment