New bridge opens!

[First cyclists cross the newly-opened cycle and pedestrian River Avon bridge]

It might not have a name yet, but the long-awaited opening of Bath’s new pedestrian and cycling bridge over the River Avon has taken place.

No bands or ribbon cutting but what they call a ‘soft opening’ that will now allow people to take a shortcut from the Lower Bristol Road – avoiding narrow pavements and spray from passing vehicles. You’ll be able to cut straight through a Mokoko coffee shop (opening in the new year) and straight over the new bridge and into the heart of the city.

The official opening – and naming ceremony – will take place early next year.

The bridge is only one feature in this once-derelict and ex-industrial part of Bath. The old Newark Works – home to Stothert and Pitt, crane builders to the world – has been regenerated and transformed into 40,000 sq ft of creative office space.

The project has been handled by TCN UK – a company with a track record of transforming unloved buildings into vibrant business communities – in a joint venture with B&NES Council.

I have to say l was impressed with their work and how much of the original industrial fabric had been incorporated into the regeneration scheme.

Clients are already moving in and it’s good to see they are local businesses too.

The rebirth of the Newark Works is taking place next door to a new-build office block which already has two clients enjoying its eco-friendly space.

Leading local financial services consultancy and software provider Altus has taken the top floor and gone through the process of being bought up by Equisoft – a Canadian-based ‘business-first technology company’ who now have their UK and European, Middle East and Africa HQ here in Bath!

Altus was a company born in Bath and it’s expected there will be other announcements, early in the new year, for other local firms announcing a move to the city’s new business centre.

Forgive me for testing out new microphones on this story and – l am afraid – suffering from poor sound quality. l will try and up my game by learning some lessons from this recording day. One marred by wind and rain

Anyway, l managed to stop and chat to Cllr Mark Roper – B&NES cabinet member for Economic Development, and to Simon Martin – an officer of the council who is the Director of Regeneration and Housing.

I asked Cllr Roper why they had decided upon a soft opening for the bridge.

NB. Since recording this interview, B&NES have announced the bridge will be open 24/7 !