First phase of Bath city centre pavement shake-up complete
The first of two phases of work to improve the street layout in the centre of Bath has been completed in time for the influx of visitors over the Christmas period.
Work to resurface and open up pedestrian areas in Northumberland Place and the High Street has been temporarily halted until January 7.
But although Bath and North East Somerset Council and business leaders are pleased with how the design is coming along, heritage campaigners are concerned part of the city’s history is being lost.
Councillor Cherry Beath, cabinet member for sustainable development, said the improvements were in keeping with Bath’s World Heritage status and were a welcome addition to the city centre.
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Mrs Beath (Lib Dem, Combe Down) said: “Excellent progress is being made by the council to improve this part of Bath city centre. High quality materials are being used that are cost effective in the long term and also show how determined the council is to maintain the appearance of a high quality physical environment befitting a World Heritage Site.
“Improving the public realm is crucial to creating communities where people proud to live, ensuring that we make Bath city centre as attractive and economically successful as possible in an increasingly competitive climate.”
The second phase of the work will begin in January and will include the continuation of new sandstone paving along the High Street, an expansion of pedestrian areas and extended crossing area between the Corridor and Guildhall and new street furniture, including bus shelters, benches, signs and cycle stands.
Andrew Cooper, Bath Business Improvement District manager, lent his full support to the way the work was coming along.
He said: “Investment in the public realm is vital in ensuring Bath continues to be an attractive destination to live, shop and visit.
“The High Street and Northumberland Place improvements are of a very high quality and are welcomed by business. Extending this to the core economic spine of our city is essential going forward as part of the public realm improvement programme.”
However campaigner Rae Harris has questioned councillors on the new design from both a road safety and heritage perspective, arguing that “all sense of history” had been lost, including the opportunity to mark the position of the city’s original North Gate.
This view was partly backed up by Caroline Kay, chief executive of the Bath Preservation Trust, who said: “I think the aims of the public realm movement strategy are admirable. To de-clutter and improve the streets of the wider public realm in Bath which let the city down, well that is a good thing.
“But then I do also think that along with the aim to clean and clear and modernise, there has been a slight losing of touch with the history of the city at times.”