Flood control key to new city centre development

More information is coming out on those flood defence proposals for an inner-city part of the RIver Avon which it seems are necessary if the local authority is going to get the green light for new developments like housing and job opportunities.

river avon
Click on image to enlarge.

The Bath Quays Waterside Project will support the delivery of around 2,500 new homes, 650,000 square feet of new workspace and 9,000 new jobs for local people as part of the Bath City Enterprise Area.

However first the project will have to reduce the existing flood risk to Lower Bristol Road and 120 residential and business properties on the south side of the river. Something that will overcome one of the major stumbling blocks to unlocking the potential of brownfield sites along the River Avon.

Around £17 million was recently earmarked by the Council from a combination of its own funds and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership to enable the regeneration of the Enterprise Area – £5 million of this will fund flood prevention measures, providing reassurance to the local planning authority and Environment Agency that it is safe for homes and workspace to be built in this location.

Local opinions on the project

  • Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe), Cabinet Member for Sustainable Communities, said, “The Council is preparing the river corridor for regeneration projects on North Quays, South Quays, and Manvers Street sites that will improve the economic prosperity for this area and its people.

“Improvements in public space for people of all ages will mean the river will become a place for both work and play. Making the natural environment as pleasant and attractive is important to reconnect the river to the heart of Bath.

“This project is crucial to getting the green light for planning consent for new development, like homes and workspace. The equation is simple; no flood mitigation equals zero new homes, jobs and opportunities in the emerging Enterprise Area. We are working in partnership with the Environment Agency and engaging with the communities who will be affected by our proposals.”

  • David Metcalfe, Co-Chair of the Cultural Forum for the Bath Area, said, “The Green Park Road flood protection scheme looks like a great opportunity to enliven this section of the riverside for recreation and assembly, and in so doing to celebrate some of Bath’s dynamic and colourful quayside past in an inventive and beautiful way. The Cultural Forum is looking forward to working further with the Council as its detailed plans develop, particularly in relation to the potential for public art and heritage interpretation.”
  • Ian Bell, Executive Director for Business West Bath, said, “To make things happen in the Bath City Enterprise Area, this vital piece of the regeneration jigsaw must slot into place alongside improved transport, better local skills and availability of workspace. The business community are urging the Council ahead to develop this scheme and make the river into an attractive location where the land around it can be redeveloped so it can deliver the private sector jobs this area needs.”
  • Henry Brown, Chairman of the Federation of Bath Residents’ Associations, said, “This is one of the least attractive parts of Bath and it’s crying out for regeneration. We welcome this project because of the opportunity it presents to create an interesting new quarter, to reduce the impact of Green Park Road, and to reconnect the city centre to the riverside.”
  • Ed Lockington, from the Environment Agency, said, “We welcome working in partnership on this important piece of work and are pleased to work with Bath and North East Somerset Council on this project, which will reduce existing flood risk in Bath and help provide exciting redevelopment opportunities.”
river avon green park
Click on image to enlarge.
  • Widening and re-profiling the river conveyance corridor at tow-path level between Churchill Bridge and Green Park.  This will require the re-routing of Green Park Road which then creates the major opportunity to open up the riverside to the city.

This part of the plan offers the potential to transform the riverside creating upper and lower level river promenades, a defined cycle route, cafes, public art and ecology, a riverside public space offering opportunities for outdoor performances and events, greater opportunities to hold more activities on the river eg boat races. This environment would provide an attractive and playful waterfront for Bath that can be used and enjoyed all year round by local people;

There are currently no plans to alter Green Park itself, other than some landscape improvements at the river’s edge;

  • Improving the river edge along the Newark Works river frontage (South Quays);
  • Raising river walls on the south side of the river between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge;
  • Improving flood defences on existing buildings fronting onto the river along Lower Bristol Road;
  • Improving surface water sewer and pumping station for Lower Bristol Road;
  • Timescale for start is Summer 2014.

Safeguarding wildlife and trees

The Council’s responsibility to safeguard wildlife and trees that could be affected by the plans is being taken seriously. A full series of surveys are currently being undertaken in respect of wildlife and ecology, including surveys of trees and bird species using the trees, as well as bat and reptile surveys. The scheme represents an opportunity to enhance the river corridor for ecology and will consider the creation of new habitats.

The removal of parts of the existing Green Park Road is likely to require the removal of mature trees along the edge of the upper bank at North Quays – this is not something the Council takes lightly. These are mainly Poplar trees from the 1970s that were planted to screen Green Park Road from the opposite side of the river. The new scheme would seek to reinstate mature trees and landscaping which will ultimately offer higher ecological and amenity value.

Director’s Notes:

A recent get-together to canvass opinions from ‘local stakeholders’ is covered elsewhere on the Virtual Museum site under ‘Down river from the Weir’ and ‘Getting to know you’.