Sunday, August 13, 2006

The only hot water Spa in the country opens

Last week the Spa at last opened to the paying public. Business has been brisk and even at the end of the first week there were still queues of people waiting to sample the waters or to book for the future. I made a booking on Tuesday for the beginning of September. Two hours from 7pm to 9pm at the resident's rate of £16.10 should allow us to be in the rooftop pool when the sun goes down and I am looking forward to seeing the floodlit Abbey and Sham Castle from the pool.

Some national newspapers have already reported favourably on the Spa. For the Independent one of their reporters went in during the session for the press the week before opening and shared the pool with an electrician even then still doing some last minute work on the pool's underwater lights. However, as well as documenting the problems of the Spa, he commented that the real problem was that there had not been a spa in the city for the last 30 years. Architect Nicholas Grimshaw broke his silence on the construction for the first time by saying how pleased he was with the finished building and he gave a glowing tribute to the council for its perseverance.

I remember swimming in the spa waters of the old Royal Baths, that were demolished for a shopping centre in the 1980s (now BHS). The waters were lovely when you first entered, but after a while swimming in the water I became pretty hot so I used to sit on the steps to cool down.

The old Cross Bath has also been restored and local residents can swim here for £6. The bath will only take 12 people a a time, so I can see this becoming pretty popular for small celebration parties. I have swum in this bath in the past too, when playing rugby for Avon RFC, probably in the 1960s or 70s, when for a short period of time Old Edwardians Rugby Club used the bath after rugby matches - not only did the water clean our grubby bodies, but it also served to ease the aches and pains collected during the game. Modesty was not a consideration - there were no swimming trunks in evidence then!

Of course it is early days, but those of us who have believed in the Spa from the outset now hope that it will be successful and give a shot in the arm to Bath's faltering Tourist Trade. The confidence shown by the company which has bought the old City of Bath College Gainsborough Building (I hope it becomes the Gainsborough Hotel) will give added impetus to the Spa.

I will be trying out the Spa on Saturday 2nd September 2006, so watch the blog for a report about the experience!

Fence Controversy

Councillor Roger Symonds and Cllr Gitte Dawson (Bathavon South) have been trying to prevent the proposed six foot high fence being erected between Oldfield Rugby Club's ground and the pathway linking Combe Down with Mount Pleasant.
It was very unfortunate that Council staff offered to fence in Oldfield Rugby Club’s land for them as compensation for the disruption caused by the bat mitigation works – without talking to residents or even informing any of the three councillors in the two wards involved. That is at the root of the impasse that has arisen at Combe Down / Mount Pleasant over the fencing of the public footpath.
The Rugby Club has every right to fence in their land. A fence up to 2 m requires no planning permission, nor are there any AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) rules to prevent it. But local people will not like it – they are used to the open space there and the pleasant walk along its edge.
Already, seven years ago, the other side of the path was fenced in with 6-ft high wire mesh. It really spoiled the look of the path. But there was real danger on the other side – cavities in the ground from the old quarry – and there was nothing councillors could do to get it removed, or even changed. People learned to live with it. What grates with people now, over this current dilemma, is that the proposed new fence on the other side (not 6-ft wire mesh now; but a rather more attractive 4-ft metal railing) is to be constructed by the Council, with public money. Alerted by local residents, councillors were able to stop the work temporarily so discussions could be held, residents consulted and alternatives discussed. Now that there is full awareness, it is apparent that people do feel very strongly.
We have seen a petition with 94 signatures on it – pleading with the Club not to fence in their fields and thereby this public path. Many personal letters have also been written. Those we have seen make no demands; they plead with the Club to reconsider. A main concern is that a fenced-in path will feel unsafe, a view confirmed by the Police.
This fear may not be rational, but it is still a fear. People will use the path less with a fence on both sides – especially parents with children. They will end up walking along Shaft Road (which does not have a footway) or go by car. What a shame – in a Council which actively promotes walking.
Cllrs Symonds and Dawson also have a great deal of sympathy with the Rugby Club. Their wish to keep the grass free of dog mess is totally understandable. It is unbelievable that dog walkers are so insensitive as to let their dogs mess up sports grounds, and particularly rugby pitches! But it happens - the evidence is there. Anyone who cares about open spaces can help by challenging people who do not clean up after their dogs. If it’s regular walkers, they should contact the dog warden who will come and challenge offenders. The fine can be as high as £1000! We should make use of it.
So now it is stalemate over the fence. Cllrs Symonds and Dawson sympathise with both parties – the residents and the rugby players. They feel the Rugby Club is entitled to the money to build the fence – as that promise has definitely been made, is in fact laid down in a contract. Plus the Club have already had to put up with much more upheaval from the bat mitigation earthworks than they ever bargained for, and, being delayed, the work is now interfering with the rugby season!
This is poor, and the Club deserves an unreserved apology from the Council, and some real compensation. But local people should also receive an apology for the thoughtless way that the Council has behaved over this issue. Compensation the Club should have, money with which they can, if they wish, build that fence. But should it really be the Council doing the building? Cllrs Symonds and Dawson think not. It is not the Council’s job to construct a fence that is thoroughly unpopular with its own Council Tax payers – especially without consulting them. The decision about the fence must be with the Rugby Club, not the Council.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Recent Planning Applications

Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 06/02686/FUL
Registered: 27/07/2006 Expiry Date: 21/09/2006
Location: 33 Southstoke Road Combe Down Bath BA2 5SN
Grid Reference: 374777 162077 Listed building Grade:
Proposal: Erection of a single storey rear extension and first floor extension
Case Mr Britton Britton
Applicant: Mr And Mrs Webster Agent Name: C G Davies
Applicant 33 Southstoke Road Agent Little Solsbury House
Agent Gloucester Road
Combe Down Swainswick
Bath Bath
Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 06/02533/FUL
Registered: 24/07/2006 Expiry Date: 18/09/2006
Location: 25 Horsecombe Brow Combe Down Bath BA2 5QY
Grid Reference: 375170 162178 Listed building Grade:
Proposal: Erection one and a half storey side extension and extension to conservatory (Resubmission)
Case Danijela Karac
Applicant: Ms C Ellery Agent Name: Western Building Consultants Ltd
Applicant 25 Horsecombe
Brow Agent Unit 20
Combe Down Wansdyke Business Centre
Bath Oldfield Lane
BA2 5QY Bath

Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 06/02562/OUT
Registered: 19/07/2006 Expiry Date: 13/09/2006
Location: Beechwoods 1 Beechwood Road Combe Down Bath BA2 5JS
Grid Reference: 376018 162116 Listed building Grade:
Proposal: Residential development (Resubmission)
Case Danijela Karac
Applicant: Mr L W Norfolk Agent Name: Cluttons (Romsey)
Applicant Beechwoods Agent 1 Eastwood Court
1 Beechwood Road Agent Broadwater Road
Combe Down Romsey
Bath Hamps
BA2 5JS SO51 8JJ
Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 06/02587/FUL
Registered: 19/07/2006 Expiry Date: 13/09/2006
Location: Cypress Lodge Bramble Way Combe Down Bath BA2 5DR
Grid Reference: 375587 162534 Listed building Grade:
Proposal: Erection of rear conservatory.
Case Rachel Le Huray
Applicant: Mr And Mrs Davies Agent Name: Leekes
Applicant Cypress Lodge Agent Mwyndy Business Park
Bramble Way Agent Pntyclun
Combe Down Rhondda
Bath Cynon Taff.
BA2 5DR CF72 8PN

Ward: Combe Down App Ref: 06/02373/FUL
Registered: 13/07/2006 Expiry Date: 07/09/2006
Location: Netherleigh Pioneer Avenue Combe Down Bath BA2 5QX
Grid Reference: 375004 162227 Listed building Grade:
Proposal: Erection of second storey extension.
Case Lewis Cook
Applicant: Mr And Mrs Fairman Agent Name:
Applicant Netherleigh Agent
Pioneer Avenue Agent
Combe Down

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Have Your Say About service 2

Cllr Roger Symonds has asked First Group to change the route of Service 2 to take it one way through the village from the city and to return to Bath via North Road and Ralph Allen Drive. First is carrying out a consultation on the change of route.

This would provide a better service for people living on the city side of North Road, whilst retaining the village service and would reduce congestion in Combe Down village. Buses would no longer have to negotiate the dangerous junction with North Road coming from the Avenue. Consultation Leaflets can be found on the buses and Roger has left limited number in the Newsagents and the Doctor's Surgery in the Avenue.

If you are unable to find a leaflet ring Jenny MacLeod on 01225 466889 or write to Ray Hardy, First FREEPOST (BS8931), Bath BA1 1XX expressing your views on the change of route for Service 2.