chaired by Keith Bradley on 4 March 1998

At the first Architecture Masterclass, at which Keith Bradley of Fielden Clegg Design was the speaker, the discussion was largely concerned with the plans and the model displayed recently for this re-development.
Most comments were critical.
Consequently, it was decided to hold a meeting chaired by Keith Bradley to discuss this subject in more detail. This took place on March 4th, attended by about 25 people. The Bath Preservation Trust and the Bath Society, the Institution, the Friends of the Earth, the Environment Centre and a variety of architectural practices attended.
The leases on the Southgate shops expire in 2000 and the site has been bought by General Accident from the Prudential. General Accident propose to demolish the existing shops and re-build the site. The plans presented by the developers recently, propose a two-storey shopping area, like Chester, giving 40% more retail area, with leisure activities above producing a four-storey complex of buildings.
The following points emerged:
Southgate will be opened three or four years after Cribbs Causeway as a smaller competitor designed to keep people shopping in Bath. Cribbs is opening near the top of an economic cycle; Southgate may open near the bottom of the next cycle and will contain, by design, a large proportion of small shops which will be vulnerable then. It would be sensible to include many more houses, which provide economic stability for the landlord, and to build the shops in stages over a few years.
The developers say they considered various options: what were they and what was their conclusion?
The site should provide an impressive way into the city centre and the new Spa from the rail station. Bath is a city of terraces, not blocks and these are much more flexible in their adaptation for alternative uses in future. An open space with a fountain ?
The rail station. should be a transport interchange with buses, river boats and canal barges.
The developers say 200 lorries a day will be delivering to Henry Street area and are providing 196 more car parking spaces than Ham Gardens, some on the roof of buildings. This is against modern trends and policy. The roof car parking could be eliminated and the car parking put underground or made convertible to flats in future.
The proposed multi-screen cinema could be replaced by a conference hall / community theatre.
A new planning brief prepared by this group should be submitted and extra time for public consultation on it arranged by the Council.
Articles should be written for national newspapers and the Bath Chronicle, Western Daily Press etc.expressing our concern at this project.
The Government Office of the South West should be notified of our activities.
. Don Lovell