Photo (credit Clive Dellard): Odd Down Ward Cllr Steve Hedges and Bath MP Wera Hobhouse met with some of the residents campaigning to preserve the site of the Bath Union Workhouse Burial Ground and St Martin’s Chapel last November.
Odd Down residents, ward councillors and Bath’s MP have applauded the rejection of the plan to build a block of flats and a car park on a site which includes part of the Bath Union Workhouse burial ground at St Martin’s Hospital in Odd Down.
The plan, proposed by property developer Colburn Homes, has been rejected on appeal by the Planning Inspector.
Several attempts were made to obtain planning permission by the developer and in each case the application was rejected. The developer took the latest refused application to appeal, but last week the appeal was dismissed.
Among the comments made by the Planning Inspector was the statement that: “…the benefits would not outweigh the harm that would be caused to the significance of the heritage assets by the intrusive development in their settings”.
The site encompasses the burial ground in which over 1,100 people who lived in the Bath Union Workhouse were laid to rest. It is part of a tranquil, green amenity space for local residents, hospital workers and visitors. St Martin’s Chapel sits within this site.
A group of local residents have researched the workhouse and the personal stories of those who lived there. The residents’ group, including Dr Jon Moon, Alan Kelly and Aileen Thompson, would like to acquire the chapel and burial ground with a view to preserving the open amenity space of the burial ground and to making the chapel a community asset that would not only be used as a centre for community activities, but also act as a museum to document the history of the site as a workhouse and hospital. It is also the place where the American rock and roll legend Eddie Cochran was brought after his fatal car accident. Indeed, two memorials to him are located on the burial ground outside the chapel.
Dr Jon Moon said:
“The dismissal of the appeal is great news. We now want to set up a not-for-profit company and negotiate the purchase of the chapel and burial ground from the current owners and get started on turning the site into a real and lasting asset for the community.”
Odd Down Ward Councillor Steve Hedges said:
“This is a very positive step forward for the Odd Down residents who have been fighting to preserve these hugely valuable elements of Bath’s history. Together we have an obligation to honour the working men and women who made such vital contributions to the city we know and love today. Along with Cllr Joel Hirst I look forward to continuing to support local residents in their campaign to save this important site.”
Bath MP Wera Hobhouse said:
“I welcome the latest development in this resident-led campaign to preserve the history of Bath’s working people and I give it my full support. I visited this meaningful site a few months ago to meet with residents and Cllr Steve Hedges. I was very moved by the personal stories of the workhouse residents that they have uncovered. Making these stories widely known will help us present a much more balanced and inclusive history of our city.”