Bath Riverside Enterprise Area Masterplan
Bath is a World Heritage City and the qualities that give it this accolade stem from its last transformation over two hundred years ago. The River Avon runs through the heart of Bath. Historically the City has been subject to severe riverine inundations. Engineering solutions to alleviate this problem have resulted in almost 50% of the banks through the city being relative sterile (concrete, stone & sheet piling). This has contributed to a decline in biodiversity as the river passes through the City. Moreover, as with many UK cities, location of industrial lands uses along the river banks have caused the city to essentially 'turn its back' on the river. Other negative environmental impacts within the riverside area include not only zones of deteriorating air quality but also increased risk of adverse Heat Island effects exacerbated by climate change caused by the amount of hard standing.
In 2014 Bath City Council realised that the regeneration of the riverside could be key to the economic growth in the city and defined an area around the central 10km of river bank through the heart of the city as the Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area. The aim with this key area as with Bath in general is to create conditions for a flexible and resilient economy which draws upon Bath's unique qualities of ‘place.’
Biodiversity by Design formed part of a multidisciplinary team charged with formulating a new vision for the Enterprise Area. Our key role was to compile the environmental evidence base for the Enterprise Area Masterplan.
We undertook extensive field visits as well as an extensive literature review. We concluded that the Enterprise Area already supported very significant ecological resources in their own right including bats, Otters, Kingfishers, Peregrines, fish, and rare plants, despite some 50% of the banks being hard structure with limited value in terms of hinterland vegetation. However, we identified considerable scope for enhancement both of biodiversity per se, and crucially, the associated ecosystem services that this can furnish to the residents of and visitors to Bath. Our work identified key ‘nodes’ along the river in the Enterprise Area where wildlife corridors intersected and/or there were features of particular ecological value in the river channel. We proposed that any enhancement works should in the first instance consolidate and enhance resources at these key nodes.
Between the nodes we recommended a variety of possible techniques for installation and retrofit of biodiverse green infrastructure. We identified a key informing principle for the net enhancement of the BCREA should be the concept of what has come to be known as ‘Biophilic Design’, whereby incorporation of biodiversity, clean water and variations in aspect and view can contribute focally to the wellbeing and productivity of citizens, thereby also resulting in a general increase in the perceived quality of place.
Bath & North East Somerset Council
Feilden Cleg Bradley Studios
Design Team Leader
Feilden Cleg Bradley Studios
'We would like to include your excellent report on the EA as part of the Placemaking Plan evidence base.' Tim Hewitt, B&NES Council.