Upper Bristol Road student flats turned down

Plans for a large student accommodation block on the Upper Bristol Road in Bath have been turned down by Bath and North East Somerset Council.

The plans, which would have seen a 394-bed accommodation block built at the old gasworks site at the corner of Windsor Bridge and the Upper Bristol Road, had been strongly opposed by residents in the area as well as the area’s Conservative Councillor Chris Pearce. 

Earlier this year Councillor Pearce joined with Bath MP Ben Howlett to organise a petition against the proposals, voicing concerns over the impact on parking and arguing that the site should have a mix of conventional housing and affordable family homes as well as business space. The petition, which gained 229 signatures, was presented to the Council as part of the consultation on the planning application.

In providing its reasons for refusing the application, the Council states that the plans would ‘reduce the housing numbers anticipated to come forward in the Bath Western Riverside area and as such would adversely affect the realisation of the spatial strategy for the city in relation to housing.’ The decision also states that ‘the proposed buildings fronting the river, due to their overall excessive height, inappropriate design, use of materials and siting in such close proximity to the river path, are considered to be harmful to the character and appearance of the City of Bath Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site.’

Welcoming the news, Councillor Chris Pearce (Cons, Kingsmead) said:

“I’m very pleased that the Council’s planning officers have decided to turn-down this application. Everyone wants to see this derelict site brought back into use, but it is not the place for another large-scale student accommodation block.  Pretty much every resident I spoke to said they were against the plans, with most people saying that a development at this site should provide a mix of affordable and convention homes as well as employment space for local jobs. 

“We’ve had a large number of student blocks built in Kingsmead over recent years, so it’s important we get the right balance of housing right in the years ahead.  I’d like to thank the many residents who supported our petition as it helped demonstrate the strength of feeling among the local community.”