B&NES back in the council house business.

B&NES back in the council house business.

Well, l never thought l would hear it coming out of the mouth of a Conservative Council leader but Cllr Tim Warren has told me B&NES is going back into the council house building business.

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 17.11.56

Cllr Tim Warren, Leader, Bath and North East Somerset Council

In a frank – end of the year – chat with Bath Newseum, Cllr Warren looked back over a year of highs and lows and talked about the strains and stresses on his ever-decreasing budget.

There was news about plans to still go ahead with east of Bath extra parking provisions and ways in which the Council was exploring options for dealing with its road congestion and pollution issues.

But housing – and affordable homes  -came up in conversation too and that included news about B&NES starting to building council houses again.

I have not edited the following chat. It is as it happened.

 

 

One day left to view Quays plans.

One day left to view Quays plans.

 

You’ve just one more day to go and view Bath & North East Somerset Council’s plans for the development of Bath Quays North. They will be on display at Green Park Station from 10am to 2pm Saturday, November 11th.

Bath Quays is the Council’s flagship regeneration project to create a new and vibrant commercial quarter for Bath’s flourishing businesses in the heart of the city.  Bath Quays North, located on the existing Avon Street car park and coach park, is a major part of the scheme.

Illustrative view from Corn Street - Oct 17

Bath Quays North artist’s impression

A Bath Quays North Masterplan has been developed and plans for the site include the delivery of around 200,000 sq ft of new office space, creating up to 1,900 new jobs, a minimum of 70 new homes for local people and a new, modern basement car park.

IMG_5549

A model showing both sides of the river and the new pedestrian bridge on which construction will begin early in the new year.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative, Mendip) Leader of the Council said:

“The Bath Quays project is a key part of our wider vision of creating a vibrant, prosperous city with flourishing local businesses, job opportunities for our residents, and new homes for people to live. Bath Quays will be the biggest office development ever undertaken in Bath and the largest building project since construction of the Southgate.

IMG_5553

An illustration showing the new bridge in position.

Bath Quays will be the biggest office development ever undertaken in Bath and the largest building project since construction of the Southgate Shopping Centre.  It’s very important local people have a say on our plans and help shape this exciting development. It will not only provide much-needed office space and homes but also breathe new life into the area.”

It’s very important local people have a say on our plans and help shape this exciting development. It will not only provide much-needed office space and homes but also breathe new life into the area.”

Illustrative view from Churchill Bridge - Oct 17

Bath Quays North – artist’s impression

The Bath Quays North application is an important step forward in the Council’s economic strategy to create jobs and opportunities for local people.

Outline planning consent for the site will soon be sought and as part of the process, the Council would like to gain feedback on the scheme prior to the submission of the planning application.

IMG_5554

The re-sculpted bank is designed to let the river flow up it during flood risk periods . I am told it is due to open to the public later this month!

 

At each session, there will be an architectural model and display boards outlining the plans and members of the public will be able to put forward their views and comments.

Plans and an online consultation will also be available on the Council’s website by 6th November until 13th November atwww.bathnes.gov.uk/bathquays

IMG_5559

The exhibition was set up in the Roman Baths today – Friday.

 

For your information:

This process is part of the standard pre-planning application consultation.

The Bath Quays development is divided into Bath Quays North which is currently home to Avon Street Coach Park and car park on the north side of the river and Bath Quays South, the derelict Newark Works buildings on the south side of the river and adjacent to A36/Lower Bristol Road.

 

 

Lights up at Bath’s new hotel.

Lights up at Bath’s new hotel.

Always nice to feel at one with the ‘in crowd’ isn’t it.

Such an occasion- attracting the bright ‘young’ things –  was the official launch of Bath’s new ‘kid’ on the commercially-accommodating block – The Apex City of Bath Hotel.

IMG_5143

Guests gathering in the new conference suite for the start of the evening’s events.

A £50 million pound investment – on the corner of James Street West and Charles Street – and one that now boasts not only 177 bedrooms but the largest conference facilities so far offered in a city yet to fully tap this additional and lucrative market.

IMG_5146

One of the table settings set up to show what the hotel can do.

We started the evening – with wine and canapes in hand – in the Lansdown Suite. It’s a conference room that can hold up to four hundred delegates – and an events space flexible enough to also host exhibitions, dinner-dances, receptions and weddings.

IMG_5157

Don’t need to tell you who this is!

Whilst admiring our hi-tech surroundings we listened to David James – CEO of Bath Tourism Plus – remind us that Bath attracted more visitors each year than Bristol and Manchester combined.

IMG_5155

Another personality l don’t have to ‘caption.’

IMG_5158

Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES.

Both the hotel’s General Manager, Tim O’Sullivan and B&NES Leader Tim Warren reflected on the fact that this new business was providing much-needed employment and one that was ‘buying in’ local produce.

IMG_5173

Holy cow! It’s undercover boules in Bath!

Apex is a family run firm with ten hotels in Scotland and England. We couldn’t fault the welcome – nor the fun the staff had laid on. Everything for guests to enjoy from boules on the ‘green’ to a help-yourself sweetshop!

IMG_5172

The hotel’s temporary help-yourself sweetshop.

The tour of the hotel’s facilities included the gym and pool area and the gift of an Apex duck – there were plenty floating on the water!

IMG_5161

Grabbing a duck to take home!

Check out the facilities for yourselves on https://www.apexhotels.co.uk/apex-city-of-bath-hotel

IMG_5160

Bath’s gulls have feathered competition!

 

 

 

 

Foxhill pledge from Council leader.

Foxhill pledge from Council leader.

Cllr Tim Warren – leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council – has reaffirmed his pledge not to sanction any mass Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) of properties in Bath’s Foxhill estate.

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 15.21.03

Cllr Tim Warren

He says he will also fight for more Government money to be able to increase the number of  affordable and social homes.

Since becoming Council Leader in 2015, Councillor Warren has met with residents in Foxhill on a number of occasions to hear their concerns about Curo’s plans to regenerate the area.

As well as supporting the creation of a Foxhill Residents Association, he’s been in regular communication with Curo to ensure the social landlord is aware that it needs to seek voluntary agreements with residents over the purchase of any properties in Foxhill, and cannot rely on the Council to compulsory purchase land.

One of the green areas where children play

He has also urged Curo to build a broader consensus among the residents over its plans, supporting efforts to bring the community and Curo together to agree upon shared aspirations for the Foxhill area.

The pledge from the Council Leader comes as the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Sajid Javid, considers requests to ‘call in’ a planning application by Curo for the redevelopment of the Foxhill area with 700 new homes, replacing 540 existing properties.

Dunster house flats

As well as ruling-out any blanket CPOs of properties in the area, Councillor Warren has also promised to continue to fight for Government funding that would allow a greater number of social and affordable homes to be included within any redevelopment.

Councillor Tim Warren (Conservative) said:

“When I became Council Leader two years ago, one of the first things I did was attend a meeting with residents in Foxhill at the request of Cllr Goodman to listen to their concerns about the plans that were emerging for the regeneration of the area. 

“Whilst Curo has now been granted outline permission for the regeneration scheme, more detailed planning applications will still be required for each phase of the project and crucially Curo will still need to acquire all the land necessary to allow the redevelopment to happen.

Cornish houses

“I have said from the start that I will not sanction any mass Compulsory Purchase Orders of properties in the area.  These are people’s homes and I believe it is important Curo seek voluntary agreements with residents over the purchase of any properties.  If it becomes the case that there is a regeneration scheme which is supported by the vast majority of residents but is being held up by one or two properties then that is something I would need to consider at that time.  But I am absolutely clear – there will be no blanket CPOs for as long as I am Council Leader.

“I want to be clear that I support the aspiration to invest in and improve the Foxhill estate, and from my conversations with residents I believe most people agree that parts of the area would benefit from regeneration.  However, it’s important for the plans to have the broadest possible support, and from visiting the community numerous times I believe there are many homes which are in good condition and do not necessarily need to be rebuilt.

“I will therefore continue to urge for there to be a phased approach to the project that prioritises those parts of the area most in need of investment whilst retaining those properties which are in good condition.”

On the issue of affordable and social housing within the regeneration scheme, Cllr Warren added:

“One of the major concerns people have about the current Foxhill proposals is the lower number of social rented homes that would result from the redevelopment. One thing the outline planning permission does help us to do is approach the Government with an approved masterplan for the area so that we can lobby them for funding that would increase the number of affordable and social homes.  This is something we have already been in discussions with Government about and which I will continue to fight for.”

two Cornish houses

Combe Down Councillor Bob Goodman (Cons), who has supported residents in opposing the current scheme, welcomed the Council Leader’s intervention:

“I welcome this commitment from Tim Warren which I know will go some way to reassure residents over the future of their homes.  However Curo also needs to give tenants the assurances they are seeking and build a broader consensus over its regeneration plans. We all want to see investment in Foxhill, but in a way which builds upon the strengths of the community here.

Houses Foxhill Road

“There are still many hurdles to pass before work can start and time to amend the proposals before Curo seeks detailed planning permission for each phase.  I would therefore urge Curo to use this time to engage with residents and come up with plans that the community can get behind, and in my view complete demolition is not the right solution.”

 

Showdown at St Swithins – will the Meadows yet be saved?

Showdown at St Swithins – will the Meadows yet be saved?

This week Bath welcomes the Mayor of the Dutch town of Alkmaar –  here for a week-long celebration of possibly the oldest town-twinning arrangement in the world.

It’s 70 years since the two cities started their ‘friendship’ – an association that followed on from locals collecting money, food and clothes to help those suffering famine at the end of Holland’s wartime occupation.

While ‘His Worship’ is busy representing us all, in his non-political role,  the Council’s Leader could probably benefit from some ‘Dutch Courage’ in his appearance on Tuesday evening in front of some of those ratepayers who actually elect people like him to manage the area’s affairs.

tim warren

Cllr Tim Warren Leader of B&NES.

Cllr Tim Warren has agreed to attend a meeting – organised by the Bath Deserves Better pressure group – to be held at St Swithin”s Church.

There will be presentations and ‘questions and answer’ sessions with ‘Save Bath Library’, ‘Save the Arts’ and ‘Bathampton Meadows Alliance.’

P1160525

The big sit down – by Bath Deserves Better protestors – that brought traffic to a halt in Milsom Street a few months ago.

All other council members of B&NES have been invited also.

The umbrella group – Bath Deserves Better – describes it as ‘ an era of new politics in Bath – open, honest engagement’ and will be hoping to ‘ hold our council leaders to account.’

The meeting comes shortly after what Cllr Tim Warren described as ‘ a mid-term reshuffle’ in his ruling group. Protestors – and some of the outgoing cabinet leaders – see it differently with resignations pointing to differences of opinion.

There are rumours – and a growing hope  – of a change of heart. That Bathampton Meadows – the current location for a new East of Bath Park and Ride – may be saved.

IMG_3370

Looking down on Bathampton Meadows from the side of Solsbury Hill.

That Cllr Warren will either announce a search for a different location or drop the project altogether.

It’s a proposal on which B&NES has spent three and a half million pounds to date – but one that recently cost Tory MP Ben Howlett his seat.

Was this the political event that has forced a re-think?

Will Tim Warren release a statement prior to the meeting or will it be something he saves for his audience?

IMG_3993

Interior of St Swithin’s Church

One thing is for sure. If he sticks to the original proposal – cars on the water meadows – he is in for a stormy evening in a church named after a saint credited with making the heavens open.

 

 

 

Down to business for new Metro Mayor.

Down to business for new Metro Mayor.

The region’s newly elected Metro Mayor doesn’t intend spending much time behind a desk following his ‘swearing in’ at Bristol’s Engine Shed today (Monday, May 8th).

Metro Mayor 1 - CB Bristol Design 2017.

Tim Bowles said he was very proud to be elected as the very first West of England Mayor: “This is an exciting time for our region as the West of England Combined Authority takes on new powers, funding and responsibilities from central Government.

“This means that as a region we can be much more ambitious – we can make decisions here in the West of England about things that affect our residents every day – decisions about homes, transport, skills for jobs and how we support business to ensure our economy continues to grow.

“Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be going out and about to meet as many people as I can. I’ll be talking to businesses of all sizes, transport operators, our local colleges and universities and community groups, to talk about the challenges we face and how we can work together to benefit everyone across our region.

Metro Mayor 8 - CB Bristol Design 2017.

L to R. Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council; Metro Mayor, Tim Bowles; Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES; and Mervyn Rees who is the Mayor of Bristol.

Mayor Bowles said he would work collaboratively and constructively with his colleagues in the Combined Authority: Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of  B&NES and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

“I know the three councils have worked together very successfully over many years – I want to build on that track record. Together we will make decisions about what is best for our region, cutting across the divides of council boundaries.

Whilst we appreciate that North Somerset Council is not part of the Combined Authority at this stage, we will continue to work closely with them to ensure we can deliver economic growth for the wider region.

I will (also) work closely with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership LEP’s new interim chair, Steve West, and look forward to him attending the Combined Authority meetings to represent the views of the Local Enterprise Partnership and its members”.

Greening up the riverbank.

Greening up the riverbank.

Having had to fell quite a large number of mature specimens when work began, the new ‘Bath Quays Riverside Park’ has welcomed the first arrival of a collection of new trees that will result in a wider and greener riverbank on North Quay.  

riverside

How it looked after the initial felling and before the reshaping work began.

The north river bank between Churchill Bridge and Green Park has been undergoing works to create an attractive landscaped park and reconnect the city centre to the riverside. 

The project is part of a collaboration between Bath & North East Somerset Council and Environment Agency, which will reduce flood risk for more than 100 existing properties and allow Bath Quays to develop as a new home for businesses.

IMG_7670 1

L to R Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council and the leader of the Council, Cllr Tim Warren.

The Council’s contractor, Alun Griffith (Contractors) Ltd, has finished reshaping the river bank and is now beginning the hard and soft landscaping work to create a new landscape, with native trees and enhanced pedestrian and cycle routes. Within the new landscaped park there will be a greater diversity of plant species, including more fruiting species to attract birds and insects.

Around 150 trees will be planted as part of the overall scheme, many of which will be planted as semi-mature to mature specimens. Native species found elsewhere along the river corridor in Bath have been chosen including white willow, field maple, alder, sycamore, silver birch, tulip tree and lime.

Bath Quays tree planting

A wider view of the area now being replanted with trees.

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones (Conservative, Lansdown), Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “This investment will significantly enhance the riverside environment, creating a more beautiful, accessible and enjoyable place for local people and visitors to the city. Today marks an exciting stage in the works, with the first large trees being planted. 

We are delighted to be creating an enriched environment for wildlife and a beautiful outdoor space at the heart of the city.”

The towpath between Green Park and Churchill Bridge will be closed for the remainder of the works to the north bank. Boat moorings will still be accessible, but pedestrians and cyclists will be signposted to divert via Ambury, Corn Street, Green Park Road and Green Park cycle path.

The widened river bank is designed to accommodate the flow of flood waters, and so once open to the public, access to the bank will be restricted during flood events.

The new park will be the central focus for the Bath Quays Business District on either side of the river and connected by a brand new pedestrian and cycling bridge. A planning application has been recently submitted for the Bath Quays South mixed use development scheme. Subject to approval it is expected that work could start on site this spring.

Deborah Steadman, from the Environment Agency said: “It’s great to see the trees going in! These will improve the environment for people and wildlife and marks an exciting step in this project to reduce flood risk and enable regeneration in the centre of Bath”.

Ongoing and remaining phases of the project include:

Installing flood defences in existing buildings fronting onto the river along the Lower Bristol Road.

Installing new flood walls and raising existing river walls on the south side of the river between Churchill Bridge and Midland Bridge.

It is expected that the majority of the riverside park will be completed in mid-2017. A section of the landscaping on the north bank, in the proposed area of the Bath Quays Bridge (opposite the Riverside Coach Park) will not be completed until 2018, after the bridge is installed (subject to planning consent). We anticipate that flood defence works along the south edge of the river will be completed in 2017/18.

For more information about this project visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/bathquayswaterside

For more information about Bath Quays development visit. www.bathquays.co.uk