Around 80 local residents met with ward councillors at St Bartholomew’s Church last week to discuss the ongoing, unconsented development at 43 Upper Oldfield Park in Bath.
The scheme had received unprecedented objections and residents were concerned that the planning process was being ignored and flouted by the developer, posing a threat to development across the whole of the city.
Residents heard that the architect, David Hadfield, had admitted in his design statement that his previous scheme, which had received planning permission after 3 previous refusals, was an ‘accident’ and as such could not be built to acceptable standards because he had ‘overlooked’ a number of technical issues in his design.
However, rather than seeking approval to changes before starting, the developer commenced work on site with a different scheme to that consented.
The new building is bigger in all dimensions with a different roof shape with various flat roofs, projections and protrusions.
Following a temporary halt to works last summer, a retrospective planning application was lodged but development has continued onsite, without any planning approval.
It is apparent however, that the building, as built, does not accord with the latest submitted drawings, suggesting that there are still uncertainties as to what the final building will comprise.
The development, for luxury apartments, has no provision for affordable homes which has also raised objections given the established need for such housing in Bath.
Residents expressed astonishment and incredulity that a building in the Bath Conservation Area has almost been completed without planning approval, with a design which is closer to a previously refused scheme.
The residents’ wish is for the retrospective planning application to be refused and the developer to build what was previously agreed to and consented.
There was added concern that such behaviour could be replicated in other locations across the city if the planning process could be manipulated and ignored to such an extent.
The residents believe that people across the city who are similarly concerned about the threat of unscrupulous developers should be able to find out more, and noted that the website junction-rd-residents.org.uk provided information on the project.
Local ward councillors, Ben Stevens (Widcombe), David Dixon and Will Sandry (Oldfield), who attended the meeting, noted the concerns raised.
The retrospective planning application is expected to be reported to the B&NES Planning Committee on 11th March.