Liberal Democrat councillors in Bath have come under fire after attempting to block plans for the Bath Quays North scheme, which is expected to bring thousands of jobs to the city.
At the Bath & North East Somerset Council Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday 1st August, Lib Dem councillors voted against a proposal tabled by Conservative councillors that would see B&NES Council press ahead with plans for the long-awaited investment into the brownfield site.
The Conservative councillors have accused the Liberal Democrats of ‘playing games’ with the future of the city’s economy for political gain, whilst at the same time ‘offering no genuine alternative ideas’ as to how they would redevelop the Bath Quays North site.
The Conservative-run council has set out its vision for Bath Quays North, which will transform the area into a thriving economic hub of the city.
The plans include:
- Up to 38,000 square meters of new floor space across seven buildings;
- A target of 20,000 square meters of modern Grade A office space;
- A minimum of 70 homes;
- A modern basement carpark providing a minimum of 320 public spaces, plus parking for businesses and residents;
- Active ground floor uses with a distinctive retail and food and beverage offer, designed not to compete with the city centre;
- ‘Generous and well-designed’ public spaces, focussed on the new south-facing riverside park
- Quality accessible routes, to and through the site, re-creating the historic street pattern and connecting the city back to its riverside.
Council Leader, Tim Warren said: “Whilst we fully recognise the need for affordable housing, the city is crying out for office space to attract the better paid jobs needed locally.
“This opportunity to regenerate an overlooked part of Bath could have been lost forever if the Liberal Democrats had their way.”
Cabinet Member, Bob Goodman added: “The project will provide first class jobs and accommodation for the people of Bath in a location which is currently being left to waste.
“Attempting to block these plans for political gain, risks undermining the viability and confidence of developers in the Bath Quays site which could result in the site being left derelict.”
“I am passionate about affordable housing, but in this situation, the economic development of the city must come first. I am still confident that we will receive government funding to deliver a proportion of affordable housing.”
In response, the Lib Dem Spokesperson on Planning, Councillor Paul Crossley, commented: “The Lib Dems have long championed the regeneration of Bath Quays. In fact we initiated the Bath Quays North project.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to redevelop part of the city centre; we have to get it right first time.
“The Lib Dems have always been clear that Bath Quays North should be a new, living city quarter, with housing and retail spaces alongside the new, top-spec office space that businesses need.
“We consider it vital that affordable housing should form part of the mix. Local people are facing a housing crisis, with many being priced out of the city and forced to commute.
“That’s why it’s shocking that the Conservatives were prepared to wave this planning application through, despite being told no affordable housing would be provided. This goes to show how out of touch this administration has become.
“Since yesterday’s planning committee, the Council has been awarded government funding to ensure affordable housing is included in the development.
“We welcome this announcement, however it remains to be seen exactly what will be delivered and we will be examining the proposals closely.”