Curo cable car, simple clanger or huge cock up?

I’ve added a section about the Curo cable car plan that flew across the sky between 2015 and 2017.

Curo were starting the development of Mulberry Park and having some ‘issues’ with their Foxhill master plan – which was mentioned in last month’s blog ‘Black hats or blunderers‘. 

The Curo cable car plan was abandoned after negative feedback during the consultation process. What I find interesting is why it was put forward? Did Curo really believe that it would receive planning permission in Bath’s World Heritage Site?

Curo are members of the World Heritage Site steering group which also includes:

The World Heritage Site steering group  is involved with producing the Bath World Heritage Site Management Plan.

A quick review of this would have shown the obstacles that the Curo cable car plan would have faced in getting any planning approval. Presumably why they said they intended to bypass the usual planning system and go straight to the Secretary of State for Transport.

Even that, one suspects, would have been a challenge. As the Bath World Heritage Site Management Plan makes clear:

"Government guidance on protecting the Historic Environment and World Heritage is set out in National Planning Policy Framework and Circular 07/09. Policies to protect, promote, conserve and enhance World Heritage properties, their settings and buffer zones are also found in statutory planning documents. The Bath and North East Somerset Local Plan contains a core policy according to which the development which would harm the qualities justifying the inscription of the World Heritage property, or its setting, will not be permitted. The protection of the surrounding landscape of the property has been strengthened by adoption of a Supplementary Planning Document, and negotiations are progressing with regard to transferring the management of key areas of land from the Bath and North East Somerset Council to the National Trust."

Further reading would have shown:

"The site boundary is the municipal boundary of the city. This covers an area of approximately 29 square km. As noted in chapter 1, Bath is exceptional in this respect as the World Heritage inscription in almost every other city worldwide covers only a part of the urban area and not the entire settlement. Venice and its lagoon is the closest European comparator.

The property was inscribed in 1987 without a boundary map, which was not uncommon at that time. The description of the ‘City of Bath’ was taken to mean that the boundary encompassed the entire city and it was managed accordingly. This boundary was subsequently confirmed by letter (dated 17 October 2005) from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre."

and:

"Bath remains a compact city, contained largely within the hollow in the hills as previously described. The city does not have significant ‘urban sprawl’ and high quality built development directly adjoins high quality landscape at the urban edge. The skyline is predominantly characterised by trees or open pasture. The green hillsides provide a backdrop to the urban area and are visible from most of the city centre. Bath is well provided for in terms of parks and open spaces, with the River Avon cutting through the city centre providing natural beauty and sense of calm. All of the above contribute to an impression that the city is smaller than it actually is."

and: 

"The Green Setting of the City in a Hollow in the Hills

42. The compact and sustainable form of the city contained within a hollow of the hills
43. The distinct pattern of settlements, Georgian houses and villas in the setting of the site, reflecting the layout and function of the Georgian city
44. Green, undeveloped hillsides within and surrounding the city
45. Trees, tree belts and woodlands predominantly on the skyline, lining the river and canal, and within parkland and gardens
46. Open agricultural landscape around the city edges, in particular grazing and land uses which reflect those carried out in the Georgian period
47. Fingers of green countryside which stretch right into the city"

as well as various maps: 

World Heritage Site extent
World Heritage Site extent
Green belt
Green belt
Conservation area
Conservation area

So, why was the Curo cable care plan put forward? It would seem that it was most unlikely to get planning permission – unless there’s something I don’t know about.

Remarkable black hats or startling blunderers?

Judges gavel

Somehow when ever I see the words ‘master plan’ I give a tiny shudder. I think of evil dictators and ‘James Bond villains‘, the ‘black hats of cowboy movies too.

The saga of the Foxhill regeneration master plan, that ran on Combe Down for 5 years or so, has elements of the things that give me the ‘master plan’ shudder.

Ordinary folk living their lives as best they can, given that they had been described as living in an area that was designated “in the most deprived 20% of the country”.

They are given a master plan to regenerate their community, by the housing association that owned many of the affordable homes in the area, and a council that granted the housing association outline planning permission.

That outline planning permission was, later, adjudged, in a Judicial Review, to have been given without: ” due regard to the need to remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by persons who share a relevant protected characteristic or to take steps to meet the needs of such persons The relevant characteristics were age, disability, race and pregnancy or maternity … The grant of outline planning permission on 30 November 2017 was unlawful, and that outline planning permission will be quashed.”

So were the housing association and council black hats or blunderers? Only you can decide what you think, but I’ve laid out the main elements of the Foxhill regeneration master plan.

It seems to me that two of the key documents are:

Given that:

it’s difficult to see that much “working in partnership with residents” took place.

N.B. There’s a great video made by the residents:

SAVE FOXHILL from Beth Sabey on Vimeo.

Amazingly it’s only 3 years?

Combe Lodge late 1800s, names of people unknown
Combe Lodge late 1800s, names of people unknown

I suddenly realised that it’s 3 years since Prior to Now launched as a website, building on the book.

It happens that in May 2015 I wrote 3 blog articles: Bathampton Manor on May 3rd, Prior Park sale on May 5th and Particulars of Prior Park sale in 1808 on May 8th.

A year later in May 2016 I wrote 2 blog articles: More family trees for Owners & Occupants 1850 to 1900 on May 19th and Original listing letter 1976 on May 21st.

By last year, in May 2017, it was just the one: Personal memories of Combe Down on May 21st.

Quite what all this proves, other than that my blogging frequency has declined, I don’t really know. Having said that it’s interesting to me to see the range of subjects that have been covered.

Also, there are many things that are within the site that have not been covered by the blog.

I find the money troubles that  Cornwallis Maude, 1st Viscount Hawarden seems to have inflicted on himself quite fascinating. I’m not particularly risk averse but the way some of the aristocracy behaved back in the 18th century really does boggle my mind – though, I suppose it shouldn’t given all the financial shenanigans we see today! Even so having mortgages of £18,008 18s 0d in 1799 on land that was doubly mortgaged to different lenders, seemingly without their knowledge and not having the wherewithal to pay the interest does seem slightly risky. 

Looking at the site by date ranges also gives some insights. The Victorian period from 1850 – 1900 saw an ‘explosion of activity’ on Combe Down, with things that were innovative in their time, such as allotments, public lighting, safer water, public transport such as the omnibus and railways, improving healthcare with the Combe Down Convalescent Home, Bath Statutory Hospital and Magdalen Hospital School.

So many of these things are so normal to so many of us these days that we barely even think about them. Sadly, when we do, it’s too often to criticize the ‘patriarchal attitudes’, or similar, of the people who pushed them and who were, in their day seen as progressive. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Memorable, official original listing letter 1976

I have just been given the original listing letter 1976 from Bath City Council.

It’s dated 2nd August 1976 and addressed to Mr R Wall making the property a Building of Special Architectural or Historic Interest or listed building from 5th August 1975 under the Town and Country Planning Act 1971.

Last evening I was just preparing the evening meal for the family (if you’re interested: smoked cod and prawns poached in a butter, tarragon, garlic and peperoncino sauce, served with British asparagus, Padrón peppers and Jersey Royals, lovely!) when there was a knock at the door.

A rather lovely lady was there bringing the original listing letter sent in 1976.

As I understand things, it was found in the effects of her husband’s grandmother, Daphne Mildred Bish who died last year.

Very kindly the family decided that the current owners of the house might like it and just brought it along.

It’s a wonderful little surprise gift and I’m only sorry that I didn’t get the chance to ask her for her name and her husband’s name – I was a little flustered as the timer beeper was going off, indicating all the food was ready, just after I opened the door. Anyway, I thank them here.

Original listing letter 1976
Original listing letter 1976

Now and Then

I’ve just reordered the site somewhat into Now and Then.

The, slightly punning, title of the book was Prior to Now and that became the website title too.

Combe Down Area Directory
Combe Down Area Directory

A thought that I always had, was that the site could include the history of Combe Down (Prior) and what’s going on now (Now).

I have now put all the history (but not the people and family trees) under one section Combe Down Then and what’s going on now under, believe it or not, Combe Down Now.

New section

This section includes:

One area that I’d particularly like to add to is Combe Down photos – especially any historic ones whether they be from your own or family archives or from postcards etc.

If you have any other ideas for what might be useful or relevant on the site then I’m always happy to ‘hear ideas’.

I have, now and then, wondered about a forum that includes the ability to post events etc. but I’m not sure whether it would be used and then there’s the question of moderation. Unfortunately there are always idiots who try to ruin it for the good guys, but it’s reasonably easy to do if there’s any demand.

Other than that I hope the new elements add to the site and that you enjoy them.