Million pound revamp for Kingsmead Square.

IMG_4479 Some good news for  people who cycle and walk around Bath city centre. They will  benefit from a £1 million investment secured for Bath & North East Somerset Council to revamp the area around Kingsmead Square with new cycling routes and an improved built environment.

The Seven Dials Scheme consists of five contra-flow cycle routes, including Monmouth Street, Saw Close, and Lower Borough Walls, that will connect with other cycling existing cycling routes, such as the on road route to Bath Spa Station. A revitalisation of the built environment forms a significant part of the plans.130429 b2) West of England CCAG Introduction_Page_21

Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, said, “We want to make Bath city centre as easy, convenient, and safe as possible for people who use bicycles as well as those on foot. It is further encouragement for people to use a bike to get commute and get around as we try to break the stranglehold of traffic congestion in the centre.

“This project will connect Kingsmead Square with Bath Spa Station and Green Park Station making it easier for people to cycle between these locations which are all part of the Bath City Enterprise Area.

Combined with the vehicle access restrictions we are introducing during the day, these connections will create a city centre which is truly cyclist and pedestrian friendly. People will also see a dramatic improvement in the appearance of this part of the city.

IMG_4219“Better transport links and revitalised built environment are a crucial part of our plans to encourage private sector investment to the city which in turn will create thousands of jobs for local people.”

A programme of works will be developed by the Council and this process will begin immediately. Target completion date is April 2015.

The Government approved the bid for a Cycle Ambition Grant that was put in by the West of England, consisting of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils.

Talking about the total £7.7 million Department for Transport cycling award for the West of England, Colin Skellett, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership said, “This funding will make a real difference to cyclists and pedestrians across the West of England, including Bath. It will make commuting and cycling for leisure easier and safer in some of our most popular places.

“We also hope to see it encourage more people to choose cycling and join over 26,000 people who regularly cycle to work across the West of England.”

Director’s Note:

It’s called a square but no longer has four true sides. It was begun in 1727 on land called Kingis Mead belonging to the St John’s Hospital Charity. It was one of the first planned developments in Bath and is contemporary with John Wood Senior’s Queen Square.

IMG_4484As the Bath edition – by Michael Forsyth – of the Pevsner’s  Architectural Guides series tells us this was the scene of a major reversal in the post-war plans to sweep away so  much of minor Georgian Bath. Permission to demolish the neglected  south side by John Strahan of Bristol was refused in 1972 and the properties were restored.

The west side is dominated by Rosewell House. It’s entirely Baroque – with a German-Flemish influence – and its external decorative treatment is unique in Bath. The buiilding is another survivor of post-war demolition. Other parts of the square were lost to the war.IMG_4481

IMG_4220It has become a popular place with many cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets. It has a regular fruit market set up in its centre.

A special place – with a giant tree –  in the heart of Bath. A social focal-point for locals rather than tourists.

It could all have been so different. In fact it almost was.

Here’s a chat l did with Charlie Ware – a local businessman who played a major part in saving what we are still able to enjoy today.

It’s from a television series on Bath and its architecture l did eleven years ago (2002) called Set in Stone: The building of Bath.  It was produced and directed by Howard Perks.