While Bath Newseum has been following the archaeology that has been undertaken on the south side of the River Avon – near Churchill Bridge – where flood alleviation work involves reshaping the riverbank – it’s now turning its attention to the other side.
Across the river the area where the city’s industrial quayside was once so busy has now been named – unsurprisingly enough – Bath Quays.
But on the other bank – we’re talking Bath Quays South – and plans for a mixed use development of land bounded by Lower Bristol Road, Riverside Court, the River Avon and Maritime House.
A planning application to B&NES looks to get permission for an office block, residential accommodation, retail and something called Creative Employment Workspace.
The development will mean internal and external alterations to the Newark Works – the old home of one of Bath’s most famous industrial firms – Stothert and Pitt.
Though the street-facing facade will be kept the former foundry and boiler house will come down.
This is a controversial area where many have hoped to see a Museum of Bath installed along with space for the arts and start up businesses.
The application status is ‘Pending Consideration’ but l will let you look through some of the images that show how the area would look – if the development is given permission.
While many in nearby Widcombe will welcome this regeneration of a derelict area – others are urging caution over its scale and impact.
The Victorian Society wrote to say:
‘The Newark Works site is of great importance not just Bath, but in an international context also, as the only remaining nineteenth century works of the Bath founded engineering firm, Stothert & Pitt.
Famous for producing cranes in particular, many of which are listed in their own right in this country, though other historic examples built by the firm can also be found throughout the world, thanks to their international renown as the best in the business.
The demolition of the foundry and boiler house would be regrettable, such is their contribution to the understanding of the site, though we accept their loss if this demonstrably required to facilitate the redevelopment of the works.
It is the proposed new blocks and landscaping where we feel that the application requires finessing however; at present they are harmful to the setting of listed buildings and to Bath Conservation Area. It is important to consider the river frontage as a whole, including the Grade II listed Camden Mill and Malthouse buildings to the east.
Together with the former Stothert & Pitt works, this stretch comprises almost Bath’s entire industrial heritage, of which the latter complex is of global significance. It is not clear why it has eluded conservation area designation, particularly with Bath Conservation Area abutting several of the listed buildings and the curtilage of the Stothert & Pitt site. Given this proximity, the proposals would unquestionably impact the Conservation Area, particularly when looking south over the River Avon, where the industrial buildings dominate the view.
The townscape behind is also part of the Conservation Area and there appears to be no reason for this isolated cluster to be omitted; we strongly recommend that Bath Conservation Area is extended to include it.
While Stuart Burroughs – Curator of the Museum of Bath at Work – writes in his capacity as Secretary of the Bristol Industrial Archaeological Society to say that – while they are delighted so much of this historic site will be retained – ‘ we are concerned with the complete loss of the former iron and brass foundry building to the north of this range and the courtyard. We are also concerned, in general, about the scale, massing and appearance of the proposed new blocks.’
Stuart says the development would reduce the significance of the historic Stothert and Pitt buildings.
‘Given the global extent of this business from the 18th until the late 20th centuries, it is – in our view – unbecoming to overwhelm the historic buildings with inappropriately sized new structures built so close to the original buildings as to render them almost insignificant’.
You can view the details for yourselves via https://isharemaps.bathnes.gov.uk/data.aspx?requesttype=parsetemplate&template=DevelopmentControlApplication.tmplt&basepage=data.aspx&Filter=^refval^=%2716/04818/EREG03%27&history=5ba8a7eb71404d209e0191068e3b838c&SearchLayer=DCApplications
It is now too late to comment apparently.