I have been getting upset by the growing dereliction you can see on the old Harvester Inn site – at the junction of the London and Gloucester Roads – and it seems a lot of Virtual Museum visitors have too!
The pub/restaurant complex was built in 1998 and – l am told – was very popular with families. It enjoyed a busy corner near the junction of the old A46 and A4.
It closed in 2007/8 – a victim it would seem of dwindling custom when the new Batheaston Swainswick Bypass moved all the passing trade further up the London Road.
Ever since then it has been boarded up and is gradually but inexorably sinking further and further into dereliction. A far cry from it’s glory days – as illustrated in this photo (below) l found on http://www.bathpubs.co.uk.
Where there was just litter and ugly graffiti you can now see how the ravages of time and weather has pulled down guttering, blown off and smashed roof tiles and even caused external canopy collapse with insulation spilling out onto the wet concrete.
So imagine my surprise early this Friday morning (January 31st) when l passed the site and immediately noticed that the graffiti had been washed off the building and all that insulation stuffing cleared away!
Seems the powers that be read visit the Virtual Museum too!
Locals will know more about its history than me but l understand there was once a working water-mill on or near this site. This complex was deliberately designed to reflect the fact that there was a real mill nearby some years ago.
It is sad to see a substantial and not unattractive contemporary building rot away.
Behind the property – which sits in once-pretty landscaped gardens beside the Lam Brook – a large and empty car park.
Now followers of the VMB tell me there were plans for a nursing home here and then – when that came to nothing – it was earmarked for housing.
However, its proximity to the Lambrook – which flows beside it and down to the nearby River Avon – may be holding up any redevelopment. There is a risk of flooding on at least part of the site.
The empty property is currently owned by Crosby Lend Lease – the British Residential Division of Lend Lease – a global property developer based in Australia!
No doubt – as part of their massive international ‘land-bank’ any stall on development is a minor matter but it DOES matter to us – the people making up the community who live around the old Harvester.
Meanwhile, with ever-popular Alice Park just across the road – and parking facilities unable to cope with the large number of families who often descend upon it – what a shame that this adjacent empty parking lot couldn’t be opened up for Park users.
It would take parked cars off the road and make things safer for motorists and pedestrians at this point – even if it was only on a temporary basis.
Shame on you B&NES for not insisting that some positive movement to halt this dereliction – or make a decision on the land’s future – is made sooner rather than later.
The site is currently listed in the Council’s Forward Development Plan as being earmarked for highways work in association with the housing development. Sounds like a roundabout in the offing?!
I would welcome any other thoughts or memories on the subject. The Virtual Museum loves your contributions and photographs too.
My thanks to VMB viewer Ina Harris for the following: