Nonsense at home

A proposal to create a park-and-ride site on water meadows on the edge of Bath has been backed by the city’s Conservative cabinet despite claims that the project would put its world heritage status at risk.

During a special meeting on Wednesday evening, opponents claimed it was a costly white elephant that would wreck the meadows and precious views of the city. One leading Tory councillor even called the project “evil”.

But following a meeting lasting almost four hours, the cabinet concluded that an 800-space park and ride to the east of the city was necessary to cope with growing congestion and decided the site at Bathampton Meadows was the best option.

Very, very, bad option. Pave over Landsdown racecourse (it’s only the Welsh who go to it) and stick a funicular down Weston Hill.

There, solved, done and dusted.

28 comments on “Nonsense at home

  1. The rape of Bath started back in the late sixties & 70’s with the destruction of the small georgian to victorian housing surrounding the architectural masterpieces and the erection of crappy jerry-built (can I say that), blocks of flats. See Julian Road…

    The original Southgate block (involving the loss of my beloved Odeon) was an abomination. The new Southgate development is a soulless wasteland. Its only recommendation is that it is new and spotless.

    Bath City Council do not deserve to have such a city to play with.

  2. I cannot comment on Bath, but I am going to anyway. No, not really.

    However there is something odd about British city councils. So many of them do not deserve the cities they have. I used to think it was corruption: developers paying them off so they can trash they own neighbourhoods. Then I thought that was wrong and it is more likely a problem with the Baby Boomers who hated everything traditional and wanted to tear it all down. Then I thought it was probably the odd ambitious politician who wants to make a name for himself and be remembered. Conserving the past won’t do that, but a monorail, or trams or whatever they call it, might.

    Now I tend to think all of those are true plus the obvious one – it must be disheartening to think you are nothing but an adjunct to the Heritage Industry. That your job is no more than keeping the place pretty for the American and Japanese tourists. It must be tempting to try something brave.

    How could Edinburgh have built that Parliament? That f&&king library? And that tram? What were they thinking? Still, look at Princes Street. One of the best street views in the UK. So of course they have to knock everything down and build some cr@p in concrete.

    Nothing I have seen in Bath is remotely as bad as the Bull Ring in Birmingham, which is just a stone’s throw from the very nice Victoria Square. They saw one and decided to build the other? Future historians will say we all went insane about 1963 with the demolition of B’s old Market.

  3. I sympathise.

    Not a year goes past without Edinburgh City Council Planning approving construction of yet another monstrous carbuncle or alteration of an outstanding old heritage building which threatens to irreparably despoil one of our World Heritage sites (we have 3 here) beyond the destruction which has already taken place (see Parliament building for example) and which seriously threatens their continued status.

    Some sort of mediaeval torture should be applied to these destructive SJW fvckwits.

  4. The Luftwaffe could only look on in admiration at the destruction their successors in British local government achieved.

  5. A proposal to create a park-and-ride site on water meadows on the edge of Bath

    I would expect they are called “water meadows” for a reason. Can anyone think what it might be?

    Pave over Landsdown racecourse

    There’s already a park and ride at Lansdown.

  6. So the usual problem with government directed development. An unholy mix of ego, corruption, stupidity, ignorance, wilful opposition to aesthetic sense and malinvestment.

    Isn’t this the point at which Mr Worstall says ‘hang them all’?

  7. Still, look at Princes Street. One of the best street views in the UK. So of course they have to knock everything down and build some cr@p in concrete.

    This started because the “cooncil” detest the New Club and its members. And just continued thereafter.

  8. Might get a rail link? You might want to talk to people who’ve dealt with national rail. Unless you’re going to build it, stations, tracks, signalling, it isn’t going to happen.

  9. Build it on Bath Golf Club, compulsory purchase it as farmland and put a car park on it. In a few years when no one is using it put planning on it for housing and sell it in plots to developers/individual self builders.

    The Golf Club now having less land can increase the fees (up from £1000 p/y) due to the increased scarcity of fairways.

    Win/Win all round

  10. So Much For Subtlety said: “However there is something odd about British city councils. So many of them do not deserve the cities they have. ”

    They have forgotten they are custodians of public property and general street scenes for the benefit of all and instead think it’s the council’s property to do with as they please.

  11. Possibly the greatest architectural crime of the last century was the removal of the Doric arch at Euston station. I don’t think there is the same level of corruption there was in the ’60s e.g. see here for John Poulson

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/march/15/newsid_4223000/4223045.stm

    Although as has been mentioned here before planning gain is a form of corporate corruption. I think it’s the idea these people have that they must drive something, rather than steward what already exists.

  12. “The new Southgate development is a soulless wasteland.” That’s a bit harsh, I think. As shopping areas go it’s sympathetic with the style of material and construction of the city. The real problem with Bath, I suppose is that hardly any house has any sort of drive or garage. but it’s still a beautiful city.

  13. congestion eh? – east side of Bath you say?

    BANES Council has more than its fair share of self regarding absolute fuckwits.TheLibDems being head and shoulders above the rest in an intense competition for the ignotant twat rosettes.

    Before the meeting, farmer Steve Horler, who has land at Bathampton, pointed out that he had been refused permission to build two shepherd’s huts on the meadows because such a development was not deemed appropriate. “You could not make this up,” he said. “They told me these two small huts were inappropriate but they’re proposing to build a park-and-ride here.”

    Much of the traffic in Bath does not want to be there…. – it is simply lack of routes that drives the traffic into the town. The genius wheeze of not connecting the A46 to A36 was a particular stroke of genius.

    In the meantime the council spend incontinently on roundabouts, signs, parking enforcement etc. Just look back at their attitude to the guy with the toll road a while back…

  14. Tim – aim is to catch people coming in down the A46 and in from the west of town; there already is a P&R up at Lansdown that’s pretty damn busy. As far as I can see there were a number of sites proposed for the Bathampton P&R and they chose the one that the landowner (who’s being held up as some kind of martyr to the cause) had already tried to get planning permission to build houses on.

    I think the rationale for building on that particular site is that it’s going to be knackered anyway by the A46/A36 link which will eventually be built, and which will dramatically reduce traffic going over Cleveland Bridge.

    One of the very odd things indeed about Bath is that the council owns a significant chunk of the town centre freehold – about 25-30% of the buildings IIRC. It’s one of the reason why Bath hasn’t yet become another identikit clone with the same chain stores as everywhere else – although the council seems keen to accelerate that way. Only recently an independent shop closed down with the owner saying that he was fed up with paying out more in rent and rates than he did in salaries to his staff.

  15. Park-and-swim.

    Water meadows – clue there surely. They flood: they take excess water from streams and rivers at floody times, to prevent flooding elsewhere downstream.

    Coming up – another ‘unintended consequence’ of Government.

    Of course now global warming is at full throttle, no more flooding just like the Somerset Levels.

  16. BiW,

    > Might get a rail link?

    Let’s say they did manage to get a station built there. It would have to be the Trowbridge trains that stop there, since GWR wouldn’t want to stop their £190-a-seat London commuters just to service £3.40 local traffic. In the current timetable, the Trowbridge trains only run every half hour. Nobody is going to park there if there’s only a train every half-hour. For comparison, the existing Lansdown P&R has a bus every 12-15 minutes.

  17. jerry-built (can I say that)

    There’s no firm etymology, but most sources agree that it predates the use of Jerry as a non-PC term for German (dating from WW1 and popularised by Capt W E Johns among others).

  18. Coincidentally, I’ve recently re-read the entire Biggles Does WW1 series. His preferred term for the adversary was The Hun. Jerry doesn’t get a mention & seems to be a WW2 adoption. Much the same as “Archie” (anti-aircraft artillery) became “flak”.
    I’ve a suspicion jerry-built derives from Gerry (Gerald) & refers to the Paddy labour built most of the UK’s cities’ residential streets in the late 19th early 20th centuries. It’s hard to work out where the developers found the skilled tradesmen to put up such a lot of housing over such a short period. Until you do any work on them. The only construction that’s vaguely competent are the front fascias. And most of the detailing there is off the peg from the builders’ merchants’ catalogue. The rest of their structures are a thrown together hotchpotch of poorly laid sub-standard bricks & wood butchery.
    I am of course referring to those Victorian & Edwardian terraces so beloved by the aspirational middle-classes.

  19. SMFS

    “…there is something odd about British city councils. So many of them do not deserve the cities they have. I used to think it was corruption: developers paying them off so they can trash they own neighbourhoods. Then I thought that was wrong and it is more likely a problem with the Baby Boomers who hated everything traditional and wanted to tear it all down. Then I thought it was probably the odd ambitious politician who wants to make a name for himself and be remembered. Conserving the past won’t do that, but a monorail, or trams or whatever they call it, might.
    Now I tend to think all of those are true plus the obvious one – it must be disheartening to think you are nothing but an adjunct to the Heritage Industry. That your job is no more than keeping the place pretty for the American and Japanese tourists. It must be tempting to try something brave.”

    All those are part of the explanation. But one you haven’t mentioned is: local government officers. If an lgo has a plan for a new and hideous development, s/he can push it relentlessly throughout a career in a council, always hoping that the next administration will be cowed by their ‘expertise’. I have seen this in operation, as officers lobby and flatter new councillors with their plans. Such officers want some large project on their CV. It takes a very experienced and sceptical councillor to deal with the officers who are the permanent local government. And it’s all very similar to the behaviour of the national civil service. Locally and nationally, civil servants tend to have their own agenda.

  20. “Very, very, bad option. Pave over Landsdown racecourse (it’s only the Welsh who go to it) and stick a funicular down Weston Hill.”

    So control of planning and development is not a bad thing after all, Tim, as long as it is what you want?

    Of course, we could just leave the solution of Bath’s parking and congestion problems to the free market, letting developers build car parks on any land they could buy or lease in or near Bath. What could possibly go wrong?

    Which brings me back to a basic point: given the population density on this small island, planning and development control (for all its deficiencies) is a necessity for civilised life here.

  21. How did Melbourne in Australia manage to escape the 60s and 70s destruction of city centres with concrete monstrosities, and also hang on to their wonderful original tram system when everyone else was ripping them out? They also managed to keep one of their original Victorian covered markets too. What was their secret? Highly enlightened planners? Or just blind luck?

  22. @So Much For Subtlety, January 26, 2017 at 11:19 am
    “How could Edinburgh have built that Parliament? That f&&king library? And that tram? What were they thinking? Still, look at Princes Street. One of the best street views in the UK. So of course they have to knock everything down and build some cr@p in concrete.”

    Thankfully someone stopped the wanton destruction of Edinburgh before it’s West & North campaign reached Charlotte Square and the New Town north of Queen Street.

    Edinburgh University destroyed George Square – is EUML the library you refer to?

    As for Scottish Parliament eyesore, thank God it’s where most will never see the monstrosity (initial estimate ~£20M, final cost ~£414M).

  23. “They also managed to keep one of their original Victorian covered markets too.” When we lived in Adelaide it too had preserved its covered market, and very fine it was.

    When we bought our present house (1920s) the surveyor showed me one of the tricks of the trade. He took me into the attic to inspect the quality of the brickwork. (i) You can see it, unplastered, (ii) if they had bothered to do good work there they had probably done good work elsewhere too.

  24. Dearieme: a builder of my acquaintance told me the same thing. He repointed my parents’ house 25 years ago and the mortar is still as good as new. The house is a 1920’s build as well as far as we can tell; the main clue was finding scraps of newspaper under a sill where the bloody wastrels had packed a gap and then plastered over it. A few years ago we had to have a pillar in a bay window replaced because bomb damage from a German raid that killed a family a couple of hundred yards away had lifted the house off its foundations and set it down again. You could see the blast shadow in a crack running diagonally up the side of the house next door. When we moved in in 1978 the kitchen window was still ‘R’ (rough) glass from when it had been blown in. The quality of the contemporary work is so much better than the original that it was quite a challenge not to make it stick out too much.

  25. A minor aside.

    Using the A4 / A46 on a regular basis I wondered at the quantification of congestion – as in traffic measurement. The nearside lanes of A4 and A46 being turned into short stay parking in the mornings…. and in the afternoons the town fills with idling diesels.

    When I went and looked at the area in question I was quite surprised to see hundreds of Excel tables of made up numbers with no detail methodology information on how the numbers were arrived at.

    The A36 southbound has 7 sequential years where the “data estimated from previous year”

    In all this I agree that it would be good to tackle the congestion – but nowhere do I see prominently linked / posted an analysis / facts based estimate of the actual problem – just some councilors bandying number around – and Bath should – on previous experience be wary of that!

    Chaotic data management, an appetite for secrecy (automatic counts are withheld by Highways Agency) aren’t imho conducive to joined up thinking.

    If the data and rationales for the scheme had been better exposed over time – just mebbe – this might have not have ended up as a council imposing something and getting everybody aerated…

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