Save the Min garden!
On Saturday 19th September, Extinction Rebellion Bath held a socially distanced protest in the City Centre, regarding the planning application for the redevelopment of the historic Royal Mineral Water Hospital.
The current proposals include the construction of a very large, four storey extension in the open space at the back of the building, which will destroy a valuable, biodiverse, green area and severely impact local residents. The ecological impact includes the felling of two mature trees.
To raise public awareness of the issue, protest signs were displayed with messages including “Bath needs its trees“, “Protect Bath’s green spaces“, “Deeds not words“, “Keep your promises” & “Save our wildlife“. Information leaflets were handed out to people passing by.
A local resident opposed to the redevelopment plans approached XR Bath for assistance, leading to this action and an effort to raise objections via the planning process.
What's wrong with the plans?
XR Bath think the redevelopment plans are wrong for the following reasons:
- The work will necessitate the felling of two mature trees which harbour huge biodiversity including blackbirds, robins, blue tits, goldfinches, dunnocks, pied wagtails, wood pigeons, collared doves, long tailed tits, jackdaws, magpies, sparrowhawks and the occasional jay. In addition to their biodiversity impact, trees in the urban setting have been recognised to be vital for removal of airborne pollutants, regulation of temperature and reduction of stormwater flows. They are also beneficial to the mental health of residents.
In July 2020 BANES declared an ecological emergency:
“The declaration recognises the essential role nature plays in society and the economy and provides a statement of intent to protect our wildlife and habitats, enabling residents to benefit from a green, nature rich environment.”
Flawed Consultation Process
- The consultation process for the development has been opaque, confusing and misleading on multiple levels. The voices of the severely impacted neighbouring residents have not been adequately heard – the four storey development will have a huge impact on adjacent flats. Visual information presented at meetings was misleading in that the most impacted existing flats were removed from the images. A physical site meeting, which was unanimously agreed when the matter was last discussed by the planning committee, has been cancelled on the grounds of COVID, even though it is perfectly possible for a visit to be undertaken in a slightly modified, COVID secure manner.
increased Hotel Capacity isn’t needed
- The BANES local plan says the city already has enough luxury hotel beds.
Act like the ecological emergency is real
XR Bath are calling on the decision on the development to be at least be deferred until a physical site meeting has taken place. Dave Searby, a spokesperson for the group, said:
“This development is a test case for BANES declaration of an ecological emergency. The warm words are meaningless unless green spaces like this can be preserved. BANES planners role is to represent the needs of Bath as a whole, not just to indiscriminately facilitate all development.”