Plans for 290 student flats in two five-storey blocks at a gateway into Bath have been rejected amid claims the city is paying the price for decisions made a decade ago.
Councillor June Player said proposals risked turning Lower Bristol Road into “a ruthless tunnel flanked with towering monotonous looking developments” that are not worthy of the city.
The site, currently home to Dick Lovett’s Mini dealership, sits within the 18-hectare Western Riverside masterplan, where outline permission was granted in 2010 to build more than 2,281 homes, up to 345 student flats and a primary school.
Councillor Player, the Westmoreland ward member, said: “I have to accept that this proposal will provide yet more student accommodation but I feel it is being imposed upon us because of a decision made 10 years ago.
“I used to be proud to say I lived in Bath and was uplifted by all the wonderful architecture, open spaces, parks and views but now 20 years on I sadly no longer feel quite this way.
“Lower Bristol Road is in great danger of becoming a roofless tunnel flanked with towering monotonous looking developments that are completely unrelated to their setting, lack any real architectural merit and are not worthy of our city.
“Surely we can learn from our past mistakes and not keep repeating them.”
Joanna Robinson from the Bath Preservation Trust questioned the viability of student housing at this scale and said the industrial design was “fundamentally incongruous”.
Some 21 people objected to the application, saying it would lead to an overconcentration of students in the area and that the lack of parking would put more pressure on the roads.
But planning officers recommended approval, saying the development “will not have any significant adverse impacts upon the environment or local residents beyond that already anticipated by the outline planning permission”.
Proposing rejection against their advice, Councillor Lucy Hodge said the proposed buildings were “ugly and of no architectural merit”, and would look out of place.
Other members criticised the scale and massing.
Committee chair Matt McCabe said: “I acknowledge the applicant did their best but the original application causes permanent harm to that stretch of the approach to the city.
“I can’t understand how it was granted permission. I urge the developer to come back with something that responds to the issues we’ve raised.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter