Recent publicity and public and business support for an organisation called Craneworks – which is promoting a new community use for the old Stothert and Pitt factory building – has led to the local authority issuing a press release affirming their intention to continue with a plan they have themselves formulated for the former Newark Works – but not dismissing discussions with ‘interested parties.’
Craneworks has announced its presence as a group of talented locals who want to set up a ‘cutting edge Centre for Invention’ at the old factory site to inspire young people and also hi-tech and dirty making spaces for art, film and digital media.
It intends to teach new skills and create new jobs and is looking for local support to make a formal approach to B&NES.
I spoke to one of those promoting the idea about the organisation and its aims.
Craneworks seems to think there might be room at the old Newark Works for both schemes – and certainly B&NES has not dismissed future discussions. In a recent statement B&NES said:
‘BMT Group (BMT) and Bath & North East Somerset Council can confirm that they continue to work together in order to redevelop the whole of the Bath Quays South area as part of the wider Innovation Quay concept for Avon St, the river and former Newark works site which is currently unoccupied and derelict. The masterplan for the area plans to deliver 1,000 jobs – including 250 in Bath’s successful creative sector.
The scheme still has to undergo design and receive planning approval as part of a comprehensive development. The balance of the site may include a mix of business, residential and creative uses, recognising the importance of the site’s industrial legacy. BMT is currently in discussions with developers in order to ascertain how the project can best be delivered to the benefit of all parties.
A number of organisations including Craneworks have expressed an interest in being involved as part of Innovation Quay, however at this early stage neither BMT nor Bath & North East Somerset Council have undertaken detailed discussions with interested parties. Funding opportunities will be announced in the autumn and will provide a basis to consider how and what is delivered.
Councillor Paul Crossley, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said, “I am delighted that our agreement with BMT is allowing the Bath Quays South redevelopment to progress as we had hoped. We are committed to making the best use of the site as part of Innovation Quay to provide a location for hi-tech, innovative companies that are a core part of this area’s future. By working with BMT we are seeking to achieve a comprehensive and economically viable solution based on sound commercial decisions that will deliver best value for Bath & North East Somerset Council, our residents and businesses.
“Craneworks have come up with a great initial creative concept and we look forward to receiving a more detailed business plan from them; in the same way we will welcome the ideas of similar interested parties. Depending on the outcome, we are keen to explore the opportunities for working with Craneworks in the city.”
BMT’s Regional Director for UK and Europe, Gary Smith commented: “BMT’s involvement in the Bath Quays South project is focused on delivering new, larger, office accommodation for its three Bath-based companies within the context of Bath & North East Somerset Council’s beautifully inventive strategy. We’re very aware of the historical significance of the Bath Quays South site and will continue to work with the Council to ensure that redevelopment is sympathetic to Bath’s unique world heritage status.”