Green light for new restrictions on Bath’s HMO’s

Green light for new restrictions on Bath’s HMO’s

Plans to manage the growth and distribution of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Bath have been given the green light by Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet today (Wednesday 8 November).

The recommendations mean that new applications to convert properties into HMOs will be refused if more than 10% of properties in the local area are already Houses of Multiple Occupation. In addition, the will also adopt a new policy that will prevent a residential non HMO property from being ‘sandwiched’ between two HMOs.

The move follows six weeks of public consultation which began on September 4 and which was in response to increasing concerns among residents about the continuing concentration and growth of HMOs in some neighbourhoods of the

Councillor Bob Goodman (Conservative, Combe Down), Cabinet Member for Development and Neighbourhoods, said: “Our new policy approach is responding to the real concerns residents in Bath have about the proliferation and concentration of HMOs in parts of our city. By putting policies in place to better control the growth and distribution of HMOs, our aim is to ensure we have a balance of types of housing within our local communities.

“We recognise that HMOs have a role to play in our city’s housing stock by providing accommodation not just for students, but also professionals. However, they should not be allowed to dominate local areas at the expense of other types of housing. This new policy means that in the future the Council will be able to prevent HMOs from taking up more than 10 per cent of an area’s housing stock.

“Furthermore, this new policy gives the Council powers to refuse planning permission for a new HMO if it would result in a property being sandwiched between two houses of multiple occupation.”

Alongside the new policy on HMOs, the Council is also currently undertaking a piece of work looking at the issue of Dedicated Student Accommodation in the city, including an assessment of the need and supply of student accommodation in the city.

Councillor Goodman added: “There has been increasing concern among residents over recent years about the significant growth in Dedicated Student Accommodation in the city and so the Council is looking at what powers are available to give greater control of both the amount and location of new student accommodation.

“The Council is currently undertaking an assessment of student accommodation needs and supply that will form part of the development of a new Local Plan.  As with HMOs, it’s important that we ensure there is the right balance of housing types in the city that includes much-needed new affordable and family homes, not just student accommodation.

“These policies are not about the Council being anti-private tenancies, they are simply about ensuring the right balance and mix of housing the city. We recognise that private rented accommodation and HMOs provide affordable housing for lots of people. We therefore feel that we have come up with a common sense plan that will protect the needs of all residents and enable us to maintain sustainable and harmonious communities.”

Results from the Council’s consultation showed that:

In total, 98 per cent of those consulted by the Council about HMOs earlier this year agreed with a reduction in the current threshold of 25 per cent HMOs, while 49 per cent thought that the new figure should be set at 10 per cent. Some of those consulted who lived in areas such as Oldfield Park, where there are a large number of HMOs, said that they felt they had “lost their communities.”

Concerns raised through the consultation by residents about HMOs included noise, rubbish and untended gardens which were seen as reducing the attractiveness of an area. In addition, many HMOs were thought to be occupied by students which meant many properties were empty for a substantial part of the year with students only living in a local community for a short while and contributing little to it while they were living there.

The SPD will be adopted and become part of the Council’s policy framework. It will form the basis for determining planning applications.



Into the Labyrinth

Into the Labyrinth

An invitation to come and help recreate the Georgian labyrinth in Bath’s Sydney Gardens has been made by the Parks for People Project who are behind plans to secure Lottery Fund money to restore the historic pleasure grounds.


There’s also a public consultation coming up soon to view the latest design plans for the gardens.


The following information has been taken from an update sent to people who have registered an interest in what a working partnership between the Council’s Parks Team, the Friends of Sydney Gardens, local residents’ groups and the Holburne Museum are trying to achieve.

First of all – on Sunday November 19th between 11.30 am and 2.30 pm you are invited to join the project team to help mark out the historic labyrinth pattern ready for mowing into the overgrown Bowls Club Lawn.

The team aim to recreate – as closely as they can – the design of the historical labyrinth that was an attraction of Georgian Sydney Gardens.

‘How can the labyrinth be part of the future of the gardens? We’re inviting people of all ages tom respond to this historic feature through this temporary recreation and to learn more about it.’

On Sunday, November 25th people are invited to come and view the updates design plans for the gardens. They will be on display from 11.30 am to 4.30 pm in the Gardeners Lodge in the park.


The gent’s toilet is Grade 11 listed.

The historic gents toilet will also be opened up for a few people at a time to take a closer look and discuss conservation options.

Some useful contacts for you:

Website: Sydney Gardens, Bath

Temple Ruin

Temple Ruin

It’s a landmark building in historic Sydney Gardens.

Minerva’s Temple by A J.Taylor – built to promote Bath at the Empire Exhibition – held in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, London in 1911.


It was re-erected here in 1913-14 to commemorate the Bath Historical Pageant at Royal Victoria Park in 19909 – which included a wooden replica of the Temple of Sulis Minerva.


It was re-erected here in 1913-14 to commemorate the Bath Historical Pageant at Royal Victoria Park in 19909 – which included a wooden replica of the Temple of Sulis Minerva.


An inspired re-use of an exhibition building but one – like the landscape around it – that reflects the lack of money in this city.


It is – like the parkland that surrounds it – in need of some financial ‘tlc’.


A (paint) brush with the past.

A (paint) brush with the past.

Elsewhere on this website you will see a story reflecting the sad state of affairs in historic Sydney Gardens.

The ‘Friends’ are helping to put together a Heritage Lottery Fund application to – hopefully – get the money  to arrest the damage and help give the park a real future.

Bath Newseum follower Ian Herve has been in touch to remind me – and you – that there is another feature running through this former Georgian pleasure grounds that IS getting some immediate attention.

That’s thanks to the volunteers working for the Canal and River Trust. The canal – built by designer-engineer John Rennie’s navvies between 1799 and 1810 – cuts through the gardens.


The canal as it runs through Sydney Gardens.

Ian – who is Vice-Chair of the Bath branch of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust – told Bath Newseum that if you go and look down into the cutting…..

‘You will see the work that volunteers have completed over the summer whilst also cutting back the overgrown vegetation that comes from the park and obstructs the towpath and damages the retaining walls.

You might also have noticed the newly painted railings through the tunnels.  Completed over three days from our workboat.

Volunteers complete the repairing of the railings – in both tunnels – within three days.

So community involvement is not as dead as you make out, the Bath Towpath Workforce is a shining light along the whole 87 miles of the canal.
I know Apathy would Rule if he could be bothered to get up off the sofa and turn the telly off but there are small groups beavering very happily in places.’
Ian says an improvement scheme for the whole area of the canal where it passes through Sydney Gardens is now being discussed by all interested parties and may well be added to the HLF bid.
Chairmens’ lodges sold for £159,000.

Chairmens’ lodges sold for £159,000.

The last two Georgian-built ‘Chair Attendants’ Lodges’ still standing in Bath are reported to have fetched £159,000 at auction.

The West and East Sedan Chair Houses, which are thought to have been built in the 1730s, were sold by Bath & North East Somerset Council, one for £81,000 and the other for £79,000.

The buildings, which were built by the noted architect John Wood the Elder in Queen’s Parade Place, are single storey and measure just 100 square feet apiece.

Councillor Charles Gerrish, (Conservative, Keynsham North), Cabinet Member for Finance and Efficiency, said: “The council has a policy of continually reviewing its properties and these were not part of its heritage estate.

Although these are unusual and historic buildings, they had only a very low rental income and are were not easily lettable because of their size and lack of essential facilities.

Capital receipts generated from the sale of the properties will be re-invested into the Council’s portfolio.  Because the buildings protected by Grade II-listed, any future development by their new owners would have to be in accordance with statutory listing regulations. ”


The square-shaped little stone buildings – complete with their original Georgian chimneys – are in Queen’s Parade Place. They have been sold for commercial use.

They were built in 1734 – by John Wood the Elder – as places for sedan chairmen to rest between carrying fare-paying passengers in the city’s first taxis service.Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 16.07.52

They were auctioned by Savills with a guide price of around £25,000 each.


Screen Shot 2017-10-27 at 16.34.40

West Sedan Chair House

The properties are Grade 11 listed which means – while the interiors can be modified – the exterior facades will have to remain pretty much the same.

John Wood – and his son John – were responsible for some of Bath’s crowning architectural set-pieces including Queen Square, The Circus and the Royal Crescent.

Putting Sydney Gardens out to grass.

Putting Sydney Gardens out to grass.

Let me start by saying that l know the guys from the city’s parks department do a great job – with ever-decreasing funds – but it’s a fact of life that more time and effort is going to go into somewhere like Parade Gardens than a recreational space further away from the main tourist trail.


Sydney Gardens displaying its autumnal glory.

Sydney Gardens is an historic, former Georgian Vauxhall that is full of mature trees currently crowned in autumnal glory.

You may know that  an application for a major HLF grant is currently being prepared that would help invigorate the space and equip it for life as a contemporary park to be enjoyed by all.

That’s a convoluted way of saying that – however much money they throw at it – it won’t be restored to anything like the way it originally was because life and society has changed.

While the city waits for some good news about a grant the gardens continue to deteriorate.


Grass tracks show where the mower has been.

The grass now gets cut by the mowing team whose machines go from park to park. I have noticed there is no great attention to detail in some places.


Not all the grass has been mown. Nothing seems to be done by hand any more. Note the squashed doggy poo bag!

Here is where the mower has been and a lot of the grass seems to have escaped the knife.

They have got rid of the permanent ‘park keeper’ who kept an eye on things and gave the gardens the benefit of a ‘personal touch.’


A roof garden is taking hold at the temple.

The roof of the temple is weed bound and boundary walls are crumbling.


The edging to the retaining wall beside the top steps has crumbled away.

Maybe Bathonians should roll up their sleeves and take charge. Silly me – doesn’t that involve taking pride in our community?

Update on Westgate Street tarmac.

Update on Westgate Street tarmac.

I have often said Bath’s Westgate Street is one of the most battered and abused roads in the city.

It’s often blocked with delivery vans and lorries, and its pennant kerb stones broken or dislodged by the wheels of the weighty wagons parked (illegally?) above.


Tarmac infills replacing missing kerb stones.

Well it seems the missing stones have been replaced with tarmac and new road markings applied.

Is it just me or would others agree that the first vehicle to park – with its wheels on the pavement – will just squash that infill?


Is this for real?

A spokesperson for B&NES told Bath Newseum:

“The asphalt repairs to kerbing are temporary and have been made in response to a marked increase in damage to kerbs and footways cause by vehicles mounting on to and running along the pavement.

This issue has been exacerbated by the development work currently taking place in Saw Close and  Westgate Street.

The flexible asphalt concrete will stand up better to contact with vehicles and keep the area as safe as possible for pedestrians. When we feel the risk of damage is reduced we will reinstate the original kerbs and footway.”