Curo cable car plan – clanger or cock up?

I’ve added a section about the Curo cable care plan that flew across the sky between 205 and 2017 whilst 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 care plan was abandoned after negative feedback during the consultation process but 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 care 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.

Black hats or blunderers?

Judges gavelSomehow 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”, who 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: