Shame about the Saw Close.

Am l alone in being very disappointed by the recently ‘re-imagined’ Saw Close – an historic open space which lies just inside what was the old city wall.

As part of a recent redevelopment – that has seen the construction of a restaurant, casino and soon-to-open boutique hotel – the space between the old Palace Theatre facade and the Theatre Royal – on the other side – has been paved, stepped and now covered in troughs of plastic foliage.

Don’t bother looking for a central fountain,  specimen tree or piece of sculpture. This newly-imagined space comes complete with bike racks, benches, plastic box hedging and an outside seating area for a chain restaurant.

This was a golden opportunity – with either a small water feature or just a specimen tree – to create another atmospheric public space for people to gather.

Steps to the left have white edges and are also marked by troughs of plastic hedges! Bike racks and benches lie beyond.

But where Kingsmead Square and its central tree, cobblestones and cafe chairs has worked – the Saw Close is a mess.

kingsmead square
Kingsmead Square

Benches have been laid out like seats at a bus station. Bike racks occupy even more space in this so-called open area.

Another view of bike racks, troughs of plastic privet and those now white-edged steps. The area is covered in gull droppings too.

Steps were constructed that were so invisible and unsafe – as a potential trip or fall hazard – that the developers had to turn around and put handrails and white lines on the risers to make them usable.

Now – to crown it all – planters have arrived – full of plastic box hedging.

It may be low maintenance but it’s also a new low for a World Heritage city with a reputation for winning national competitions for its floral displays.

I thought this city was turning its back on plastic?!

Shame on you B&NES for not insisting on a higher-quality – and more imaginative – finish.

This is a missed opportunity to create a new focal point in a city famous for its Georgian iconic spaces.


  1. I completely agree Richard, a lost opportunity, it is those awful steps that worry me most, surely the architects should have made a flat central area and to disguise the slope had a wall with slope for wheelchairs, & planted a raised bed with proper plants watered by the business around here, to make a pride of place often so lacking, always expecting others to do the work. A few small trees would soften the effect.

  2. Aa email from Alison Harper who follows Bath Newseum:

    “Just to say that I too noticed the plastic plants a day or so ago.
    There is an architect called Rem Koolhaus who described bland uninspiring places ‘junkspace’ and this is truly what this has become. Not sure what the Theatre Royal must think of it.
    I really do think there must be a petition or something started. I think it is the developers who have the final say, but the council must have some input surely?
    Actually it kind of matches the plastic wisteria flowers strung across the shopping precinct!”

  3. Two more tweets on Twitter!
    KirstenElliottSwift #FBProEU

    1h1 hour ago
    Replying to @richardwyatt @MoreTreesBANES and 9 others
    You are most definitely not alone. Keep up the good work, Richard – I think you have the council on the run – or rather, the Tory administration which appears to have all the aesthetic taste of a charging rhino and no grasp on investing to produce economic gain.
    0 replies 0 retweets 0 likes
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    2h2 hours ago
    Replying to @richardwyatt @MoreTreesBANES and 8 others
    The use of plastic plants is SO against the current zeitgeist of plastics reduction. These must go.
    0 replies 0 retweets 0 likes
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  4. Richard

    I agree with you – I was shocked (and sorry) to see the historic pennant paving being ripped out in Saw Close.

    I’ve just been to St Emilion in France – another whole town that’s a World Heritage Site – and this is how that town looks after its historic streets.

    B&NES might wish to take note!

    Paul Jackson


  5. I have to agree with a lot of what you say. I don’t mind the architecture itself, but I had noticed the lethal ‘steps’ and news that the box hedge is actually plastic is really shocking. The ‘steps’ are not steps, but just a trip hazard. A disappointingly dull and tasteless result.

  6. Just another example of Councillors from “Wansdyke” not understanding the needs of a World Heritage City. About time we had a campaign to bring back Bath City Council.

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