Radstock rejuvenation plans.

imagesExciting plans to rejuvenate the town centre of Radstock with new homes, retail space, and restoration of the Brunel rail shed have been submitted to Bath & North East Somerset Council by Norton Radstock Regeneration Company.

Some 17 acres of the town’s former railway land is proposed to be redeveloped to support the future of Radstock with the new homes it urgently needs as well as commercial buildings and open spaces.

Cate Le Grice-Mack, Chair of Norton Radstock Regeneration Company, said, “The application has been made following close working with the Council and our preferred development partner Linden Homes, and is based on careful consideration of the need to support a strong commercial centre, as well as planning for improved access within and through the town.images

“While the 17 acres occupies only a relatively small part of the town we are aware of the role that this development will play in supporting the future of the town. Alongside the mix of housing, significant amounts of office space will support the creation of new jobs. Since our original permission was granted a number of factors have changed, followed by further consultation.

“We’ve listened very carefully to what local people have to say about what they want for the future of their town. The new application takes these on board, and is designed to support safe access to the Colliers Way and National Cycle Network routes, while providing pedestrian access both within and outside the development through wider pavements and traffic calming.

“Nearly half the site will remain undeveloped, and we remain committed to supporting mixed regeneration uses, access to the old railway line to Frome for walking, cycling and hopefully one day light rail use.”

The plans have also been met with support from Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet.

images-1Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, said, “These are exciting times for Radstock residents. At every town event I attend there is a feeling of gaining momentum towards achieving this regeneration project that will deliver new homes, jobs, and more opportunities for people’s leisure time. The project is more than bricks and mortar, it is about supporting a better quality of life for local people.”

Key details of the plans

  • up to 210 homes of different sizes;
  • A total of nearly 11,000 square feet for a potential combination of offices, shops, and community use;
  • Restoration of the Brunel rail shed for new uses;
  • Car parking as part of the new scheme and new bus stops;
  • New children’s play areas;
  • Safe access to Colliers Way and National Cycle Network routes;
  • Linked in to a new road network to improve travel within and through the town.

The full planning application can be found on the Council’s website

Thanks a million (and more)

Thanks a million (and more)

Steel drum band and Georgian welcome!

Steel drum band and Georgian welcome!

A steel drum band from King Edward’s School and a lady and gentleman in period costume were there to welcome guests onto the Royal Crescent lawn last night where the Bath Preservation Trust had organised a drinks reception to say ‘thank you’ to all its supporters.

Guests listening to the informal speeches.

Guests listening to the informal speeches.

With No 1 back in business and re-united – at great expense – with its service wing  it was a time to acknowledge all tbose who had given generous amounts of money and time to make it happen.

Both the Chairman, Edward Bayntun-Coward, and Chief Executive , Caroline Kay, gave informal speeches of thanks.

The Chairman and Chief Executive - Edward Bayntun-Coward and Caroline Kay -thanking guests for their support.

The Chairman and Chief Executive – Edward Bayntun-Coward and Caroline Kay -thanking guests for their support.

Song and harpsicord music at No 1

Song and harpsicord music at No 1

Afterwards everyone – including the Mayor of Bath and Chairman of B&NES – was invited to take a tour of the newly-renovated and much-enlarged Georgian museum and even entertained to song and harpsicord music.

The grand marquee on the lawn was a bonus – kindly lent to the Trust by the Royal Crescent residents who are holding their annual ball in it tonight (Saturday).

Loos get temporary relief!

The public toilets in Larkhall Square.

The public toilets in Larkhall Square.

Public toilets in Weston village and at Larkhall in Bath have won a stay of execution after Bath and North East Somerset Council confirmed that plans to close them would now be put back to April next year.

The Liberal Democrat-run Council had been planning on closing the public toilets from the 1st August, sparking an outcry amongst local communities.

In Weston – following strong opposition from local residents and High Street traders, backed by local councillor Colin Barrett – B&NES has granted the toilets a temporary reprieve whilst it conducts more work on trying to find alternative toilet provision in the area.

Cllr Colin Barrett, who organised a 300-hundred signature petition against the closure plans, has welcomed the news.  He said:

“It’s good news for Weston that we have managed to force the Council to back down from closing our toilets this year.  Local residents and traders are totally opposed to closing these toilets, which are well used and right on a busy High Street.

“But the battle isn’t over yet.  The Council is still planning on closing the toilets from next April.  The Council had promised it would keep them open until an alternative is found, so unless a satisfactory alternative is found I will be fighting to keep them open permanently.”

The August closure at Larkhall loos!

The August closure at Larkhall loos!

The same proviso applies to the toilets at Larkhall where locals had also put up a spirited fight led by councillors David Laming and Bryan Chalker. A petition with 534 signatures was collected and handed in.

It has been suggested the Oriel Hall community centre should let the public use toilets there but leaders there are not prepared for that to happen and say they will have to lock the front door during the day if the closure goes ahead.

Cllr Bryan Chalker told me:

Cllr Bryan Chalker

Cllr Bryan Chalker

‘The hope is that we can find a way of avoiding closure of Larkhall Toilets and the decision on June 26 to delay this by Cllr. David Dixon, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods has given us until April 1, 2014 to find a way to fund this vital public facility.

Cllr. Dave Laming and I hope that sponsors can be found to maintain the weekly upkeep of a toilet block which has served the people of Lambridge since 1907.

It’s worth remembering that Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Larkhall Square forms part of that protective shield.’

The toilets are amongst five earmarked for closure unless parish councils or businesses come forward to run them. The deadline now is April 1st!

Civic honours for Bath rail writer

Civic honours for Bath rail writer

Radstock Museum

Radstock Museum

A successful local author has unveiled his 96th book with a launch event at Radstock Museum supported by the Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council.

Around 60 rail enthusiasts joined Bath-based Colin Maggs MBE – regarded as Britain’s most prolific railway and tramway author – to celebrate the launch of his latest book on the Bristol-Radstock-Frome railway line. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Colin’s first railway book, on the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway, in 1963.

This was the first-ever Bath & North East Somerset Council Reception to be held outside Bath, other than those connected to annual civic church services.

Councillor Neil Butters, Chairman of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “Colin Maggs MBE is Britain’s most prolific railway author, with an astonishing 96 books published – and three more in the pipeline!  As a railwayman myself, it was an honour to welcome him – along with the scores of railway enthusiasts who also enjoyed a most entertaining evening.”

Cllr Butters retired from a railway career spanning 47 years at the end of March.  For the past 15 years, he had served as Secretary to the Railway Heritage Committee which, until recently, was the national statutory body responsible for ensuring the long-term preservation of significant railway records and artefacts.

Colin Maggs, who is believed to be the only railway author to be honoured with an award from the Queen, said: “I was delighted and most grateful that Bath & North East Somerset Council supported this event. It was fitting to have the official launch here given that the bulk of the line ran within the present Council’s area, between Whitchurch and south of Radstock. Apart from coal, the line served several other industries – including quarrying, printing, and the manufacture of greenhouses.”

The whole of the Bristol-Radstock-Frome line was closed to passengers in 1959 but rail continued to serve Kilmersdon Colliery – the last pit in the Radstock coalfield – up until the colliery’s closure in 1973. The final demise of the railway south of Radstock came in 1988 with the closure of Marcroft’s wagon works.

Snap up some Euros!

Snap up some Euros!

Do you have an eye for a good picture and a good knowledge of Bath?  Bath & North East Somerset Council belongs to a network called the Organisation of World Heritage Cities (OWHC).  The OWHC is running an amateur photographic competition for member cities, with a € 500 first prize.

Is this a winner?

Is this a winner?

Photos must depict a characteristic view of Bath, including the letters OWHC displayed in a creative manner.  The competition is open now and closes 31 July 2013.  The winning photo goes forward to compete with winners from other European cities.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem, Widcombe) Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development said, “There are sweeping views across Bath and all sorts of historic sights to see, so anyone who enters this competition from our area has a great chance of winning.  Our creative communities and photogenic city are a perfect blend for this challenge.”

Entrants should register using an online form at www.ovpm.org/en/literally_owhc  which also contains full competition details.

 

A touch of glass.

A touch of glass.

It certainly says 'Stothert'

It certainly says ‘Stothert’

Popped into the Guildhall yesterday to check out the fireplaces in the banqueting room.

Dan Brown of www.bathintime.co.uk suggested l take a look after l had commented upon the local industrial name of Stothert being stamped on the front of an oven door in the kitchen of the new No 1 Royal Crescent Georgian house display.IMG_4106

Seems before Stothert teamed with former apprentice engineer Pitt to go on into crane production, the family did fireplaces too.

The name was clearly stamped but not so clearly in my fuzzy picture.

Two down and one to go!

Two down and one to go!

It was all because l was excited to find the chandeliers in the vast room being cleaned by the same company who look after the cut-crystal at the Assembly Rooms.

IMG_4108 The guys from Brotheridge Chandeliers of Skelmersdale tell me it takes a whole day to deal with each of the huge hanging lights.

The room has got to be one of Bath’s most magnificent interiors. The Guildhall was finally constructed by Thomas Baldwin from 1776.

Bath to join spa ‘super-league?’

Bath to join spa ‘super-league?’

Twenty six years ago Bath won international recognition for itself by successfully bidding to be classified as a World Heritage site. The accolade from UNESCO applauded its archaeology, Georgian architecture, social history, town planning and  beautiful setting but there was no mention of it being a spa resort –  something it can boast it has been right from the 1st to the 21st century.IMG_3201

Things could change – that’s if a new association Bath is undertaking bears fruit. It’s decided to team up with 13 other spa towns across Europe  to see just what it takes to be a spa and what new credentials could be added to the list. Bath is the only one in the group to be a World Heritage site. The others make no attempt to hide the fact they want that too.

Mayor's guides gather to hear more about Bath Spa!

Mayor’s guides gather to hear more about Bath Spa!

Members of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides gathered at the Pump Room last night to hear more about the new joint study. There to address them was Tony Crouch – World Heritage Manager for Bath and North East Somerset Council – and Christopher Pound who is an architect and World Heritage advisor to those seeking such an accreditation .

Tony said there were obvious benefits to having World Heritage status. It was a ‘badge of honour’  a ‘hallmark of quality’ and recognised as ‘a global brand’ internationally. It helped in trying to fight unwelcome planning applications, it was helpful in bringing more tourists and gave local businesses a ‘marketing edge.’

Tony Crouch - World Heritage Manager for B&NES

Tony Crouch – World Heritage Manager for B&NES

Tony explained that UNESCO were still only thinking about archaeology and architecture  when it came to a place like Bath but he said there was more emphasis today about what went on in those buildings and spaces and how the people – residents and visitors – interacted. What you could call the cultural dimensions of the spa resort.

Christopher Pound went on to talk about the contributions all the spas had made to European medicine, culture and science.

Here at Bath’s Mineral Water Hospital – fed with thermal water – doctors had devised diagnostic medicine.

It was also important to look at other aspects of the history of a spa city. Elements of the sacred and spiritual, healing, the 18th century Enlightenment, the coming together of different groups in the public realm and erosion of class, the evolution of manners, the development of a tourist industry, a look at gambling and entertainment and the management of the city.

Christopher Pound addressing the Mayor of Bath's guides.

Christopher Pound addressing the Mayor of Bath’s guides.

While it was clear to all that associating with Bath was a benefit to other spa towns looking for World Heritage status, we were not altogether sure about  exactly what our city stands to gain from joining ‘the Great Spas of Europe’ group.

There was a feeling amongst guides that we didn’t want to risk losing our place on the World Heritage list in search of other reasons for being there! It was – after all – archaeology and architecture that attracted most of the four million plus tourists who come to Bath each year.

However it would be nice to have recognition as a spa town and join a sort of ‘champions league’ and it was also worth pointing out, said Tony Crouch, that on matters like ‘fracking’ in the search for natural gas supplies, that emphasising Bath’s importance as a working spa helped show Government how any such activity allowed nearby might threaten the three sources of the city’s thermal waters.

IMG_3231

Looking past the Cross Bath towards the Thermae Spa, old Hot Bath and new Gainsborough Spa Hotel.

Finally the study would be looking at how Bath could develop a ‘spa quarter’ in the part of the city that had always been associated with drinking and bathing in the hot spring waters.

Exploiting the ‘well-being’ factor could bring even more businesses into our spa resort where the local economy already benefits to the tune of 380 million pounds per year and upon which 10,000 jobs depend.