Twerton Mill, Lower Bristol Road, Westmoreland, Bath
Twerton Mill is a contemporary student accommodation scheme completed in 2015. It is situated within the Bath conservation area, World Heritage Site, and the Bath Enterprise Zone, and sits within the historic Twerton village core as the site of the old Upper Woollen Mills. As existing, student rooms at Twerton Mill have been made available as short-term holiday lets outside of term time by Pure CityStay.
We note that the application proposes dual PBSA and aparthotel use until the end of September 2021, and the number of aparthotel units occupied at any one time would be capped at 80.
However, in light of Covid-19 we question the suitability of providing further hotel accommodation when Bath’s existing hospitality sector is facing increasing challenges of reduced visitor numbers and associated revenue. We feel that the existing student unit vacancies offers a positive opportunity for the provision of short-term rentals for young professionals and key workers, particularly considering the site’s reasonable pedestrian proximity to the RUH and location within Bath’s industrial quarter (B1: Bath Enterprise Zone).
Within the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, Policy B3 identifies the Twerton and Newbridge Riversides as areas of primarily industrial enterprise (B1, B2, and B8). However, it is noted that “there is scope to redevelop the area to provide new business (B1a, b, and c) premises and housing.” There is no reference to the area as appropriate for hotel usage (C1); areas highlighted as appropriate for hotel development within the local plan incorporate more central sites such Manvers Street and Green Park Station West & Sydenham Park.
We additionally have some concerns regarding the potential for increased traffic, on-street parking, and associated impact on residential amenity. Previously, the Trust has supported limited parking provision within the student context of the development (see 13/01876/EFUL). However, we highlight the reduced usage of public transport in favour of private vehicles in light of Covid-19, and in conjunction with the site’s location outside of the city centre where tourist attractions are focused, and high turnover of guests on a short-stay basis (eg. long weekends, mini breaks), this would have a significant impact on the residential amenity of Twerton. The scope for up to 80 guests a night could result in the further crowding of the already-congested A36, and insufficient on-site parking would further pressurise on-street parking capacity.
We acknowledge that the existing S106 agreement for prohibition on local car parking would be extended to cover the aparthotel use of the site, but this does not account for an increased dependency on private vehicles for health reasons and the site’s pedestrian distance from city centre tourist facilities and activities.