Bruton Knowles have applauded BANES’ Development Management Committee after a controversial scheme to replace small business units at the Wansdyke Business Centre with luxury student flats was thrown out.
Paul Matthews, Head of Bruton Knowles’ Bristol office, said councillors were right to over-rule their officers – who had recommended approving plans to replace the artisan business hub with 126 student studio flats, commercial units, a fitness centre, coffee shop and associated parking.
He said: “This is a victory for the common man and common sense. Bath’s artisan business locations are being buried beneath an avalanche of student accommodation and many are being forced to move out of the city altogether.
“Bath residents have watched as commercial property of every description has been torn down or converted to student accommodation – and they chose to make their stand against the Wansdyke Business Centre proposal.
“The scheme ran contrary to the wishes of the majority of the neighbours as well as surrounding residents. The people weren’t persuaded on the business case to evict a dozen small firms to make room for even more students and neither were we.
“We have supported Bath’s start-ups and small business people who have watched all the traditional artisan accommodation along the Lower Bristol Road replaced with student mansions.
“This has diluted the city’s employment space and resulted in some industrial occupiers being forced out of the city to surrounding estates three or four miles away – much to the detriment of their employees.
“Hopefully the company will bear all this in mind before embarking on any appeal against the refusal.”
Paul Matthews said BANES’ officers and councillors should also reflect on the strength of feeling against the Wansdyke Business Centre proposal, put measures in place to protect the local employment mix and ensure the remaining Grade B space is safeguarded.
He concluded: “While we are right behind the regeneration of redundant industrial, commercial and retail space, BANES must respond to the plight of small businesses struggling to find suitable premises at affordable rents.”