Housing plans have been shaken up in a revised bid to revamp a Bath supermarket – but residents still aren’t impressed.
Rengen is now proposing to house 16 students above the Co-op in the former Scala cinema in Oldfield Park and 72 more in a separate building, with another block providing nine residential flats, none of which would be classed as affordable.
However, it is also appealing the rejection of its plans for 92 student flats and 16 residential apartments on the site, saying Bath and North East Somerset Council has form for “unreasonable refusals”.
Rengen’s latest proposals say: “The application was rejected over concerns regarding the design, overdevelopment of the site and the impact on the neighbouring properties.
“The essence of the project remains as per the previous scheme, to redevelop and regenerate the area including significantly improving the facilities for the existing Co-op store.
“The proposals represent an efficient use of land for the redevelopment of a brownfield site.
“The development brings much needed range of new residential accommodation to the area, broadening the housing mix available.
“The redevelopment and regeneration of the important Scala site replaces unattractive and largely obsolete buildings with quality modern architecture.”
Westmoreland’s Councillor June Player said the changes – apart from removing a level from the four-storey student block – did not go far enough.
“Any proposal that decides to remove affordable housing and increase parking miseries in a location where affordable housing is needed and parking is already at stress levels should instantly be refused,” she said, asking for the fate of the application to be decided by the planning committee.
She was among more than 150 objectors, with one asking if the minor adjustments were meant to “grind down the opposition”.
Amanda Jefferies said Oldfield Park had been “engulfed” by shared houses and there was too much student accommodation, while Ben Pope said it was “farcical” to suggest the no-car policy could be enforced.
Another objector urged the council to “get a move on” with the residents’ parking zone planned for Oldfield Park “instead of putting students, tourists and money first”.
Simon Butcher, added: “It is baffling and depressing that this city continues to put the wants of students and universities ahead of people who live all year round.
“More and more and more student housing / rooms / blocks / accommodation. This is not what local people here need or want.”
The appeal could yet see Rengen’s previous plans for the Scala approved. They were refused by councillors against officer advice in May.
Calling for a public inquiry, the developer said: “The planning committee has a history of rejecting schemes for student accommodation where there is no policy grounds for refusal and alternative matters are given more weight that they should be in the decision process leading to unreasonable refusals.
“The appellant will present evidence that will demonstrate that the design is not just acceptable but enhances the area and that any impacts on neighbouring properties do not justify the refusal of planning permission.”
B&NES Council is yet to submit its response to the appeal, which will be heard in January.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter