Bath development given UNESCO nod

UNESCO officials visiting Bath have signalled support for new development despite campaigners' fears over large schemes in the city.

Bath: council responds positively to UNESCO delegation
Bath: council responds positively to UNESCO delegation

Austrian architect and academic Manfred Wehdorn and Richard Veillon from UNESCO's World Heritage Centre came to see how Bath is managing development in a world heritage context.

They took evidence from Bath and North East Somerset Council and local pressure groups on the three-day trip last week. Wehdorn said: "In a city that lives, new architecture and new spaces are absolutely needed."

The council had moved to dismiss fears that UNESCO could block major schemes (Planning, 29 August, p1). Its world heritage manager Tony Crouch, who spoke to Planning after the visit, called it "extremely positive".

"This was a mission to come, see and advise. I hope that UNESCO will provide some advice in time for revamping our heritage management plan next year."

Council planners have given outline permission for the Western Riverside development, which will see 2,200 houses, shops and a school built by the River Avon.

Conservationists said the scheme, which includes buildings of up to nine storeys, will dominate the city's skyline and is "inappropriate". Crouch explained that the inspectors made no specific comments about the Western Riverside plans.

The inspectors will give their final report to UNESCO on 15 December. However, it is possible that the council will not know their verdict until the next annual meeting in Seville in July.

"I hope that it will encourage a wider interpretation and a greater understanding of the issues we face in Bath," said Crouch. UNESCO was due to visit Edinburgh on a similar mission as Planning went to press.

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