Chairman's Report for FoBRA Committee 20th July 17
Leader Meeting 14th July
Nick and I held one of our regular meetings with Cllr Tim Warren on 14th July. He was accompanied by Cllrs Bob Goodman (Development), Martin Veal (Community Services) and Patrick Anketell-Jones. We discussed the following:
1. Progress on Bath Transport Strategy
a. Alliance for Transport & public Realm.
b. Eastern P&R
c. Associated reduction of traffic in the city.
d. A36/46 link.
2. Bath Parking Policy
a. Results of survey
b. Linkage with Transport Strategy.
c. Fair treatment of Central CPZ residents.
d. Visitor permits for B&Bs and hotels unfairly allowed.
3. Planning Matters
a. Curo's resubmitted plan for Foxhill.
b. Party Houses – progress on Fire Safety.
c. Experimental closure of Queen's Square.
d. Accident-causing Hope House Hoardings.
4. Refuse Policy – need also to tackle existing litter-strewn pavements and railings.
5. Student Housing – the scourge continues, with no sign of a policy, apart from review of Art 4 Direction.
6. Potholes – in particular those notified by Ken Ayers (Bathwick Estate).
7. FoBRA – now 30 full members, including CARA, and 4 affiliates.
I shall be happy to expand on any of these at the 20th July meeting.
Consultation on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
The Council introduced its HMO policy in the form of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) over 3 years ago and it has been partially helpful in limiting the harmful effects of 'studentification' in the Oldfield Park and Twerton areas of the city. However, the SPD is now due for review. In my last report I wrote about the comments FoBRA submitted, requesting any suggestions you might have. The Council issued a progress statement on 28th June in which, having taken account of all responses, they advocated a tightening of the HMO proportion in any small area of the city required to trigger the need for planning approval from the current 25% to 10% (which would be in line with the recommendation of the National HMO Lobby, and FoBRA's submission). This will now proceed to a full public consultation in the Autumn. If approved, it is likely to result in a widening of the parts of the city where HMOs are established, but a lower limit to their density. However, it will have little or no effect on areas where high density is already the norm.
Bath City Forum (BCF)
The BCF held a workshop on deserving candidates for CIL money on 13th June. The next full meeting will be held on 24th July, with an emphasis on Health provision. A new Chairman will be required, with the elevation of the present one, Cllr Bob Goodman, to the Cabinet. The Bath City Conference, sponsored by the BCF, will be held on Friday 13th Oct 17.
Bath Preservation Trust (BPT)
I attended the BPT AGM on 6th July – splendidly organized, as always. I asked two questions of relevance to FoBRA:
1. How were the new houses built on Granville Road, next to ex-MoD Ensleigh site, allowed to be granted planning permission, bearing in mind that they are now clearly visible at the top of the Charlcombe valley, thus desecrating Bath's sacred skyline? Caroline Kay, BPT Chief Executive, admitted that this had slipped through their guard, partly as permission for each one had been sought separately. Following discussion, Council Planners now agreed that this had been a mistake.
2. Noting that the BPT was a member of the Bath Alliance for Transport and the Public Realm, I urged it to join with the other (~19) members in putting its shoulder to the wheel to ensure early implementation of the Bath Transport Strategy – Traffic and Pollution surely being the greatest threats to Bath's conservation? This was noted.
The Chronicle dated 13th July carried FoBRA's letter on the Bath Transport Strategy, following the Council's announcements on the Eastern Park and Ride, etc. The text of that letter can be found in the 'Papers' tab on the website.
Some of you may have heard me taking part in a discussion on the 'Today' programme broadcast from 'The Edge' at the University of Bath on 15th May, chaired by Justin Webb - details (and a picture!) on our website under 'News'.
I spoke at the 13th July Council meeting where adoption of the Placemaking Plan was proposed. My statement has been separately distributed.
You may wish to learn more about Party Houses by watching the short video recently made by Bath Newseum, and featuring your Chairman. It covers all the main points: https://bathnewseum.com/2017/07/10/its-no-party-for-us-say-residents .
Waterspace Study and Project
I wrote to riverside members on 26th May about the Council's Waterspace Study, inviting them to respond by 31st May to the relevant Officer about moorings in their areas. The Council then made a Press Statement on 27th June to announce that the 35-element project is moving forward (including creation of new moorings). There will be an opportunity to discuss this at the Committee on 20th July.
Library and One Stop Shop
The Council is currently consulting about the integration of the Library and the One-stop-shop; and also where to put them. This runs until 15th Sept.
The Council is currently consulting on the hackney carriage (ply for hire taxis) trade in Bath. We may not have much to say about it, but the Executive's view is that, while there seem to be plenty at the busiest places (station and Orange Grove), the real issues revolve around app-based services (eg Uber) and private hire operators. Meanwhile, at a Council meeting on 13th July, the decision was made to confirm the licensing of Uber.
NORA has forwarded to me a good article from a friendly London QC giving advice for residents about how to conduct one's statements and submissions at Licensing Hearings (mostly concerned with the Licensed Victualling trade). Famously, residents usually get a raw deal on these occasions, but can do better with advice! This advice could be relevant to almost any tribunal or Council committee.
Bath's Business Improvement District (BID) wants to reach out to residents and so is proposing to sponsor some 'Home' retail events in the evening around 23rd to 27th Oct, featuring perhaps OKA and Rossiters. I'll tell you more if and when it materialises.
Language Training for Syrian Refugees
Alice and Ian Herve have become involved recently with 'Bath Welcomes Refugees'. Now a charity, it is helping with the care, settlement and language education of the current 7 families in Bath; soon to be more. Alice is coordinating the language education for them all, and teaching some herself. These are very vulnerable people, for whom more qualified language teachers and accommodation are needed.
St Mary's Church Wall
My last report on the wall in Burlington Street, which has been missing for nearly 10 years, was in November. There is no visible progress, but at least the church now recognizes that it cannot remain like this. Ultimately, their intention is to seek permission to extend the Terrace, but first a more robust application to overturn the Tree Preservation Order on the magnificent chestnut tree, which occupies the space, is required.
One of the most effective (and invisible) secondary glazing techniques for Georgian windows, which I have learned about, will be demonstrated by the makers, Cosyhome , at 20 Southcot Place, Bath, on Tuesday 1st August at 1600. Anyone interested, please speak to me.
Robin Kerr, final, 15th July 17