Smoothing the way

[Library shot. Will get more up to date image on my return to the UK]

Sorry l have been rather sluggish with regard to refreshing Bath Newseum with new material but l am taking a break and grabbing some Gran Canaria sun.

However, with a laptop perched on my sun bed supported knees,, let’s catch up with a story involving a question posed by Roger Houghton who is a regular contributor to this blog.

Let’s revisit an email he sent to B&NES concerning the renewal of pavement slabs on Old and Street.

“Walking through the centre on Friday I noticed that the pavement is being renewed in Old Bond Street. Sadly, though, it isn’t being laid in compliance with the instructions set out in either the Council’s own Streetscape Manual, an SPD adopted in 2005, or Vol. 2 of the Bath Pattern Book (e.g. sect. 5.2.1).

According to the Manual “random width rows across the pavement using slabs of different lengths… is to be adopted in all new paving schemes”. In Old Bond Street, though, 600mm square slabs are being laid. Not just that but also concrete slabs rather than natural stone. Presumably Old Bond Street must fall within the category mandated for natural stone paving in sect. 4.20 of the Manual (see below) and should ideally also match the stone paving in the adjacent Milsom Street and New Bond Street.

Cost can’t explain the failure to adhere to the guidance on laying pattern but nor can the difference in material cost be that significant for what is a relatively small project. The concrete slabs being used (Marshalls A3291) cost £31 sq metre (ex VAT) whereas, for example, Forest Pennant (one of the stones suggested in the Streetscape Manual and which was recently selected for the Cleveland Pools) costs £60 sq. metre. Then there is the carbon footprint. Forest Pennant has one of the lowest carbon footprints of any stone and is quarried just 30 miles from Bath. Concrete, by contrast, has one of the highest carbon footprints of any building material.

And if the Council doesn’t comply with its own adopted SPDs how can other contractors be persuaded to do so?”

Roger had sent his email to various departments but has sent me the reply he received from Gary Peacock, who is the Head of Highways, Parking and Passenger Transport Place Management.

It reads:

“I refer to your email dated 12th March 2023, the works you have highlighted were part of the maintenance programme. When undertaking maintenance work the paving is generally replaced like for like.  

This particular area was one of the more extensive areas that required maintenance due to the large number of damaged slabs, and new slabs were used to provide a consistent surface finish.

A bit of maintenance work on the pennant stone in Abbey Church Yard

The Pattern Book is used when delivering major repaving works, the most recent examples being York Street, Saw Close, Seven Dials and Stall St. We will continue to progress opportunities for the enhancement of the public realm through major repaving schemes.”

So there we have it!