Council considers what to do with the London Road planters.

It’s now my understanding that a ‘hold’ has been ordered on any removal of the special planters installed a few years as part of an expensive regeneration plan for the city end of Bath’s polluted London Road.

However, though l have been told they may end up replacing security concrete blocks around the city centre, l have also heard they have a scrap value. The planters are reckoned to have cost five thousand pounds each to install.

The metal troughs – artistically decorated and designed to had an oxidised (rusty) surface – were planted with trees and draped with hanging vines.

Last week many locals were shocked to see many trees had been uprooted and taken away. One had been one cut through with a saw – leaving just the roots.

Local councillor Richard Samuel – one of two people representing the Walcot Ward – told Bath Newseum that a plan to remove the majority of planters out of London Road was turning the clocks back and insulting those who walk or cycle to work.

 

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Artistically created they may have been – but ‘safety’ obstruction they turned out to be. That is the explanation Council officers gave Cllr Samuel for the removal of trees and their designer planters and he’s not happy about it either!

He says he wasn’t been kept ‘in the loop’ and was shocked to hear the expensive containers – the work of local artist Jane Veveris Callan – are going to be scrapped.

On her website, Jane includes that work in her CV:

“She was recently commissioned by Bath & North East Somerset Council to create designs that were laser cut onto CorTen steel tree planters and grilles as part of the London Rd Gateway Regeneration Project Bath”.

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A still from Jane’s website. © Jane Veveris Callan

Meanwhile, cycle campaigner Adam Reynolds has waded in on Twitter with Highway Department plans that – he says – show there has been ‘ no secrecy’ and that the issue ‘has been discussed with many of the stakeholders over the last couple of months.’

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Adam Reynold’s tweet about the plans for removing some of the planters. You can also see Cllr Samuel’s response!

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Part of the Highway Department’s plans for removing the planters. Supplied by Adam Reynolds.

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Another Highway’s Department image – supplied by Adam Reynolds.

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The young tree has been sawn down.

Bath Newseum took these pictures on Saturday, March 18th. It shows many of the artist-produced metal planters were without their trees. In one planter the tree had been sawn off!

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This one completely uprooted!

These ‘tubs’ had been added to the road as part of an expensive ‘greening’ of one of the busiest and most polluted highways in and out of Bath.

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Cllr Richard Samuel, Walcot Ward.

We spoke to Cllr Samuel – beside a busy and noisy London Road.

Cllr Samuel mentions an independent safety audit, on the regeneration work, carried out in 2015 – after the scheme had been completed. It draws attention to the positioning of planters either side of side road accesses restricting visibility and recommended ‘that the planters are relocated outside of visibility splays’. The section dealing with this is shown below.

 

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Many people may wonder why it has taken three years to deal with this recommendation and why the solution seems to be to take them away completely rather than relocate on the London Road.

Having read the audit l feel the safety review was far more critical of the combined cycle/footpath arrangement that has never worked properly. The audit recommended actual putting cycle symbols on the cycle portion of the path but that never happened either!

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A row of treeless planters.

On – Monday, March 19th – artist Jane Ververis Callan – who designed the artwork on the planters – took to Twitter to have her say. Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 09.22.15

The Council’s officers have been tasked with coming up with a new role for the planters.

One suggestion is to use them to replace some of the ugly concrete security barriers that have been installed around the city – following last year’s Christmas Market.

No trees this time but mini flower beds. Whether they would be enough of a deterrent to hostile vehicular acts would remain to be seen.

Bearing in mind l was told the planters were etched with lines from a Japanese poem and placed sequentially so you could read as you walked along – l am not sure how this will work around the city centre!

5 thoughts on “Council considers what to do with the London Road planters.

  1. This is slightly disingenuous. When installed, it was raised by many people that those planters created a major sightline issue. Work is now ongoing to rectify many of the issue with the extremely poorly executed and designed London Gateway scheme. Those skips need to go.

      • No. The waste of money and poor decisions were done as part of the £1M London Gateway Scheme with people time and again raising issue after issue with the design and the complete failure for anyone involved in the decision process to recognise this was a transport project, not just “public realm improvement”. The utter failure to create a safe east cycling route is the shame here, let alone the failure to keep all cars in the centre of the road and prevent significant PM10 air pollution exposure to pedestrians. These fixes are primarily necessary safety changes although extending the loading bay is a retrograde step.

  2. Surely, like the boarding put up to *reduce* visibility at large roundabouts, there’s a case that (although counterintuitive), reducing visibility actually improves safety? Were there any recorded incidents due to supposed lack of visibility?

  3. I don’t see how a tree that’s been sawn down can be replanted. And I can’t believe that there is nowhere else for the planters. How about the south end of Westgate Buildings, where there used to be a flowerbed and where there is now just a huge expanse of pavement? As for safety, there are tree-lined avenues in many cities which don’t seem to be a safety hazard.

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