What’s happening …

29 APRIL 2015

The B&NES Development Control Committee will determine whether to support the recommendation to issue an Enforcement Notice requiring the demolition of the building within 6 months. The Committee report makes its clear that the developer knew it would be constructing a different building when it commenced work in February 2012, but they did not seek planning approval for OVER TWO YEARS, and only then, when invited to do so.

23 APRIL 2015

BBC Radio Bristol reported on the development and heard our community and the Bath Preservation Trust calling for the planning process to be upheld. They asked that B&NES take the necessary enforcement action against the unauthorised development.

8 APRIL 2015

At the Development Control Committee meeting on 8 April, the community made a strong and positive statement about the need for high quality design in the city and for developers to follow the planning process. This statement was reiterated by local Ward Councillors Ben Stephens, Will Sandry and Dave Dixon.

The Committee listened to our request and decided to REFUSE the Retrospective Planning Application.

28 JANUARY 2015

Over 80 residents attended the community meeting on 28 January and heard how the 43 Upper Oldfield Park developer’s deliberate manipulation of the planning system was a Bath-wide threat.

If the developer succeeds in browbeating the planning system, it would set a precedent that undermines democratic control of development across the whole of the city.

Solving the problem of unscrupulous developers subverting the planning system requires that retrospective planning application for this building be refused and planning control enforced.

It is only reasonable that the developer builds what was previously agreed to and consented.

Local ward councillors, Ben Stevens (Widcombe), David Dixon and Will Sandry (Oldfield) were in attendance and noted the concerns raised.

Key points:

  • The developer seems to have deliberately manipulated the planning system and has admitted that it never intended to build the approved scheme
  • Even the developer’s revised plans for retrospective planning permission do not accurately reflect what has actually been built
  • The issue is not only about the harm the building inflicts on the environment. It is also about the credibility of the planning system.  What precedent does this create?
  • National planning policy says that effective enforcement is important as a means of maintaining public confidence in the planning system. The Council must stand up and maintain the credibility of its decisions and effectiveness of its controls over development
  • This is a Bath issue not an issue facing those immediately affected. Everyone in Bath needs to know what may happen if this development is allowed to happen

Treating the planning system with contempt

The architect for the development has admitted that the scheme that received planning permission (after 2 previous refusals) was never going to be built with the excuse that he had “overlooked” a number of technical issues.

Rather than seeking approval to changes before starting, the developer commenced work on site and has constructed a very different building to the one it had permission for: it is bigger in all dimensions with a different roof shape with various flat roofs, projections and protrusions that cause harm to the conservation area and the city’s roofscape; reasons why the developer’s earlier schemes were refused permission.

Following a temporary halt to works, last summer, the developer was forced to submit a retrospective planning application but continued to build without a planning approval. Even their revised plans do not accurately reflect what they have built.

Squirming out of affordable homes obligation

There is an established need in Bath for affordable houses. Developers building a  block of 14 luxury flats, such as at 43 Upper Oldfield Park, are obliged to contribute to affordable homes provision. However, a loophole allows developers to avoid this obligation if they can prove they won’t make a “competitive return”. The developer here is trying to exploit this loophole. Try to imagine how a developer can sell 14 flats in Bath with a view of the iconic Royal Crescent and not make a profit.

What’s next….

Ideas were discussed about how to make sure the message was spread throughout the city of just how dangerous the precedent would be for Bath if this development is allowed to remain.

If you wish to find out how you can join in with our plans to ensure that the integrity of the planning system is enforced and our beautiful city protected from unauthorised development, please contact us.