Revealed: £160m vision for Sainsbury's in Bath
New plans outlining the detailed vision for a £160 million shops, offices and homes development by Sainsbury's in Bath have been unveiled.
The supermarket giant is hoping to dramatically expand its Green Park site, building a store almost twice the size of its current one while creating office space and building 270 new homes.
It has spent the past eight months holding consultation meetings with residents and groups, fine tuning and updating the plans, and is now almost ready to submit a planning application.
Jonathan Rawnsley, one of the project managers working on the scheme, said the idea was to transform that area of Bath and create a new gateway link between Lower Bristol Road and the city centre through Green Park Station.
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"Also, we have been looking at regenerating the riverbank quarter, creating a type of linear park, which will link up from the existing bridge, through the old Homebase site and then to the Crest Nicholson scheme," Mr Rawnsley added.
"It is really about making sense of the Bath Western Riverside development and creating a link from all the parts across to the city centre."
The plans would see a new Sainsbury's supermarket, surrounded by flats, on the existing Homebase site, and then shops, offices and townhouses on the site of the current store and car park.
Green Park Station would remain, but be given a makeover, with one idea being that it could house a different style of market each day of the week.
Mr Rawnsley said Sainsbury's was aiming to submit a planning application to Bath and North East Somerset Council by September or October this year, with a view to work to start on the site towards the middle or end of next year. Because of the scale of the development it is likely that the supermarket would not open until late 2015 or early 2016.
The plan is to make the store one of the most environmentally friendly in the country, with the possibility of using excess heat from the supermarket and cool air from the River Avon to control the temperatures of homes around the site in a carbon-neutral way.
Mr Rawnsley said: "We will be doing everything possible to make this a ground-breaking store."
He added that Sainsbury's had gone into the process with an open mind and had adjusted its plans in response to feedback from residents and shoppers. Mr Rawnsley said: "I think that has really been the key to the whole process – we have engaged with the local community and local stakeholders.
"It has given us a chance to ask them what they want to see. It has very much been fed by that process. Rather than putting forward a scheme and then defending it, we have started with a blank sheet of paper and have been working from there to include everybody's aspirations.
"It is not just about our aim of wanting a new store, with better facilities and a better range of products, it is part of a much wider regeneration project. So we have to take everybody's thoughts into consideration."
The scheme depends on Sainsbury's striking a deal with Homebase for the DIY firm to move on to a new site elsewhere in the city.
It is understood that negotiations are going well and that the Roseberry Place industrial estate, further along Lower Bristol Road, is the preferred location for the new home and garden store.
Mr Rawnsley said it was not a development that could be rushed and that he believed the time spent talking to residents over recent months would prove crucial in the long run.
He said: "At the end of the day we appreciate that Bath is a very sensitive city to develop in. We always knew it would take time to make sure everybody was on board."