FOBRA COMMITTEE, 1 MAY 2014: CHAIRMAN'S REPORT
Meeting with Paul Crossley, 25 March
Robin Kerr, Patrick Rotheram and I met the Council Leader at his request and asked him about:
1. Flood defence. Justification for the prevention work and its impact upstream from the weir. He promised to show us a response from the Environment Agency about lack of value for money from work at Bathampton meadows.
2. Transport Strategy. When will the public consultation start? He now seemed to think, in the summer
3. Rugby Stadium. We expressed concern about the proposed height of the East stand and the need for a green transport plan, and the seeming reluctance of Bath rugby to volunteer information.
4. Public Realm. We expressed disappointment at non-implementation of our „shopping list‟ of short-term public realm improvements. He agreed to check what happened to a proposal to reverse the traffic flow in Milsom St / Broad St.
5. Action against public drunkenness. He promised to talk to Manda Rigby, chair of the licensing committee and get back to us.
6. Housing. He will ask about the possibility of adopting SPDs on housing space standards, on the model of Portsmouth and London, and also for the design of student housing blocks.
Update from Bath Rugby, 24 April
Several RAs joined with Robin and myself in a short presentation from Nick Blofeld and his colleagues about the club‟s latest position. All work on the major redevelopment is shelved until the outcome of the Rec Trust‟s appeal against the tribunal ruling is known. The club is therefore applying immediately for planning permission for extensions to the seating and boxes on the North, East and South sides of the ground to increase capacity from 12,044 to 14,000 seats for a 2-year period. They say this will involve no increase in footprint. These extensions would be dismantled out of the rugby season unless they were exceptionally needed for cricket. The club will also be running extra activities during its 150th anniversary year – big screen, jazz concerts, community events. Noone raised any particular objections.
Meeting on Sydney Gardens HLF bid, 24 April
The Council invited FoBRA to a meeting with the Holburne Museum to discuss gaining community support for the Heritage Lottery Fund bid to refurbish Sydney Gardens. Representatives from Bathwick Estate, Bathwick Hill, Henrietta Park, Lansdown Crescent, PERA (4 people) and Sydney Buildings joined with Robin and myself. Matthew Smith, John Crowther and Xa Sturgis explained the background and content of the bid: continuing decline exacerbated by Council cuts, chance to reintegrate museum‟s garden into the wider space, re-establishing the feeling of a pleasure garden rather than a dull municipal park, opportunity for one-off
enhancement (c £4m) and creation of new sources of income, access to Network Rail electrification funds, encouragement from National Lottery to bid now, rather than later. The bid was therefore submitted in February.
We expressed concern at the patchy community involvement. I myself had suggested at least 18 months ago that RAs be involved, since when I had heard nothing. We asked about precedents for the project, and the Council promised to forward information.
Three of the FoBRA representatives (all from PERA) were also committee members of the recently-formed Friends of Sydney Gardens, who have written to the HLF to express serious reservations about the project. The Friends object to the possibility of forming a trust to own and manage the gardens, to any material change in the character of the gardens, and to the involvement of the Holburne in the management of the gardens. All the other RAs expressed concern that unless there was a general message of support from people in Bath, the Lottery would allocate its money elsewhere. It was suggested that the Friends should withdraw its objections and engage further on the details when and if the Lottery allows the project to proceed to Stage 2 (development).
As agreed at the March committee, I sent Rhodri a message of thanks and best wishes at his departure from the Council. He has responded to say that he always found FoBRA to be a definite force for good in the city, and that he is very happy to provide us with advice from time to time if that would be helpful.
Henry Brown, 25 April