The £400m housing scheme that could change Bath for ever
It has been described as the most significant development in Bath since the Georgians and those behind the £400 million Riverside housing scheme claim it could mark the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the city.
The former Stothert and Pitt engineering works closed more than 20 years ago and since then its former site – 32 acres of land alongside the River Avon – has lain empty and derelict.
However, in the past two years the industrial wasteland, between Victoria Bridge and Windsor Bridge Road, has begun what will be a very slow and steady transformation to become the place to live in Bath.
Debbie Aplin, managing director of Crest Nicholson Regeneration, which is running the scheme, said: "It will act as a catalyst for the rest of the river corridor and is part of the city's vision.
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"Bath has always been seen as a spa town, a tourist attraction, but Bath's vision going forward is to have more specialist industries here but in order to do that they need suitable housing."
Crest Nicholson has permission to build 2,281 homes and apartments on the site, as well as a primary school, shops, restaurants and its own energy centre.
The pace of building work is a pleasing sight for all those involved in the scheme, which was first discussed in 2004 but drew to an abrupt halt in 2007.
Ms Aplin said: "The credit crunch hit and it all stalled between 2008 and 09. We were looking at the site but it was a big ask to come in to do remedial work. But we kept talking and eventually in 2009 we decided now was the time to bring the scheme forward.
"We needed to redesign the scheme again but there were benefits to that. We decided in the economic climate to put more houses with back gardens and remove some of the block apartments and remove the railway embankment.
"Affordable housing was also the best way to bring cash into the site. The first 48 homes built were sold to Curo."
So far 299 homes and apartments have gone up, along with an access road, a courtyard with a children's play area, boules court and fruit trees, and an open space along the river.
Of these 299, more than 120 are affordable, which has been welcomed by Curo, Bath's largest social housing landlord. Jane Alderman, head of development at Curo, said one house alone had 277 bids from would-be tenants.
She said: "We'd had an interest for quite some time and had talked with several developers about the site.
"There's so little affordable housing in Bath, to be able to live in this development so near to the city centre has been very popular."
Despite the progress made so far the Riverside development is likely to take 15 years to complete. A new planning application is due to go to Bath and North East Somerset Council before the end of the year for the next phase of 26 large family homes.