Have you say on the University of Bath Masterplan

Have your say on the the future of the University of Bath campus at Claverton Down.

The University of Bath is holding a public consultation exercise as senior staff begin to prepare a masterplan for the Claverton Down campus. The plan will outline future proposed developments at the campus, and the university’s other sites elsewhere in the city. And before the final plan is published next summer, the university says it wants residents’ views on a number of issues. These include transport and parking, sustainability and the provision of student residential accommodation both on campus and elsewhere in the city. The plan also includes areas for campus development, including new teaching and research facilities.

You can have your say via the web at: www.bath.ac.uk/masterplan2007 This site is availble until Monday 17th dEcember for your comments. Please make use of it!

Zero Waste Week: Calling all Individuals and Community Groups

You may remember the Zero Waste Week that the Council held last year and the BBC family of five who reduced the amount they threw away to the equivalent of one yoghurt pot.

Following the success of the week, this year the Council is looking to invite local people and also community groups to take part and see how much you can reduce your waste over the course of a week.

Anyone can take part, either as an individual or a community group. The definition of a ‘community group’ is as broad as possible so this may range from the whole of Oldfield Park or school community through to a local group or association, street, block of flats or even a virtual community.

So far, over 20 groups have already expressed an interest in taking part. The aim of the week is to encourage as many people as possible to take up the challenge to see how much you can reduce what you throw away over the course of a week, by reducing, recycling and composting as much as they can.

The week will run from Monday 26 November to Sunday 2 December this year. If you are an individual or community group who would be interested in taking part or would like to find out more, please contact Council Connect on 01225 39 40 41 or email councilconnect@bathnes.gov.uk

Two Tunnels project to compete on TV for funding

People are being invited to vote for a project to restore the Two Tunnels Path, in Bath, to be awarded a cash boost from the Big Lottery Fund as part of a television show to be screened later this year.

Two Tunnels Path project is one of 79 schemes that together make up Connect2 – a UK-wide Sustrans project .

Connect2 is competing for £50 million of funding that will be given away following a TV programme and public vote. The funding comes from the Big Lottery Fund’s Living Landmarks: The People’s Millions, and in early December there will be a television programme on each of the Living Landmarks projects competing to win the £50 million.

At the end of the week the telephone lines will open, and then everyone will get the chance to vote and help to make Two Tunnels a reality.

The Council and local councillors Will Sandry and Shaun McGall are working closely with Sustrans, the charity behind the Connect2 project, to ensure as much local support as possible.

Below is a link that takes you to a registration form – please do enter your email and mobile number so that you can be informed of when the TV programme will be shown and the number to phone to vote for Connect2. Your details will only be used to give you this information, and because the vote may be at a weekend, your asked to provide your mobile number if possible. You will no be charged for any texts sent to your phone regarding Connect2.

Recycle your old electrical goods

The Council has installed new facilities for residents to recycle any type of household electrical item. The Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations which came into force earlier this year means that any unwanted electrical product should now be re-used or recycled wherever possible and not disposed of to landfill.

The Council’s three Recycling Centres at Keynsham, Bath and Old Welton have been provided with recycling banks which will take a full range of large and small household electrical appliances from vacuum cleaners to hairdryers, from TVs to electric lawnmowers.

Cllr Sandry and Cllr McGall are pleased the Council is extending the range of materials local residents can recycle. The Council will be actively encouraging residents to keep their old electrical goods out of household waste bins and instead separating them for recycling.

Althought the new Tory-Controlled Council has set targets for recycling, the Liberal Democrats believe that we should be aiming for a zero waste situation.

To find out more about the WEEE regulations and how you can recycle your old electrical goods, please contact Council Connect on 01225 39 40 41.

“Englishcombe Inn” applies for extended license to sell alcohol

The Englishcombe Inn on Englishcombe Lane has applied for an extention to its licence to sell alcohol under the Licensing Act 2003. Local residents have until the 1 November 2007 to write in with their comments. The Council must consider each representation on its own merits and would have to take into account the substance of the comment / objection when determining whether the resident was close enough to the premises to be affected.

Our reference: 07/03049/LAPRE
Premises:Englishcombe Inn, 157 Englishcombe Lane, BathBA2 2EL

Variation: To extend the sale of alcohol

Monday-Thursday 10:00 hrs to 00:00 hrs,
Friday -Saturday 10:00 hrs to 00:30 hrs,
Sunday 10:00 hrs to 00:00 hrs
All Bank Holidays, Christmas Eve and Boxing Day 10:00 hrs to 02:00 hrs

To Permit regulated entertainment comprising Live music and voice (acustic and amplified). Recorded music including Juke Box and Karaoke with or without DJs. Compere for functions and quizzes etc. Pub games in front of audience and Video entermainment.

Last date for representations:1 November 2007 (28 days from date received)


Sale of Alcohol Sunday to Thursday 10:00 – 00:00
Sale of Alcohol Friday and Saturday 10:00 – 00:30
Indoor Sporting Event Every Day 19:00 – 23:30
Performance of Live Music Every Day 20:00 – 23:30
Performance of Recorded Music Sunday to Thursday 10:00 – 00:00
Performance of Recorded Music Friday and Saturday 10:00 – 00:30
For further information please contact:

Burniece Brown
Team Administrator
Licensing Services
9-10 Bath Street
Bath BA1 1SN
Telephone: (01225) 477531
Email: licensing@bathnes.gov.uk

Community to be at heart of new planning policies

Work to put together a new generation of planning policies which will set out the broad locations for new housing, jobs and community facilities hasbeen launched by the Council.

The new Council’s (conservative) Cabinet met in early September to consider the launch of the Core Strategy which will lead to a planning “blueprint” for development and regeneration across the district.

Local residents are invited to have their say on the plan from 25 September (until 17 December). This will give residents the earliest opportunity in helping to identify issues around the use of land.

The Core Strategy is the first of a new generation of planning policy documents. It will become the key document used by the Council to underpin decisions on a wide range of planning issues- from planning applications, to negotiations around regeneration and the location of new housing. The Strategy will come into force from 2010 to 2026.

Before the Council decides on specific proposals for the use of land, it wants to set out the best ways of working with the public to identify their views on the future use of land in urban and rural areas.

The Core Strategy will be a key document in articulating and delivering some elements of other strategies, in particular the Sustainable Community Strategy and emerging Council ‘Visions’.

The Council has identified a number of key issues that will be facing the district over the next 20 years, it would like to hear further suggestions about what matters to local communities and their views on the issues that the Council has identified. The Council will involve residents from the earliest opportunity so that they can have a direct input on planning issues of the future.
This Strategy is required of all local authorities by the Government, the Council must work within national Government guidelines and regional policies set out by the South West Regional Assembly. The guidelines cover a range of issues required by economic growth, including provision of new housing, locations of retail businesses, and environmental issues. The Council is required to meet specific targets around these issues.

It is important to remember that the Council does not have a blank canvas when it comes to planning for the future of our area- there are national and regional planning policies and standards which must followed. However it is in the Core Strategy that local decisions will be made which will have a direct impact on the future use of land in urban and rural areas.’

Cllr Sandry and Cllr McGall hope that the public consultation will spark-off discussions about the future of the area and espeically Oldfield Park. The Core Strategy will have an impact on everyday life for people who live and work in the district.

Take a look at our Core Strategy launch document and other publicity material www.bathnes.gov.uk/corestrategy

Make Landlords of HMOs pay Council Tax or Business Rates

Cllr Shaun McGall recently signed a petition asking the Prime Minister to “Make Landlords of HMOs pay Council Tax or Business Rates.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has responded to that petition and they stated:-

“All property is assessed for taxation on the basis of its primary usage. Where it is used as a person’s permanent residential accommodation it is classed as domestic and subject to the council tax. All other property, apart from certain exempt classes like agricultural premises, is treated as non-domestic and is subject to business rates.
Houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) are treated as domestic property and are subject to council tax. However, it is the owners of HMOs, not the residents, who are liable for council tax. The Government has no plans to make owners of HMOs liable for business rates. To do so would mean treating them differently from other domestic property.
Properties occupied solely by students, regardless of whether it is a HMO or not, are exempt from council tax. This exemption is designed to benefit students, not landlords, because, in general, students are not normally entitled to income related benefits such as housing and council tax benefit.
The distribution of formula grant to local authorities in England takes account of the circumstances of each authority’s area and its relative ability to pay council tax, expressed in terms of the council tax base. The calculation of a council’s tax base does take account of exempt student properties. Other things being equal, the smaller the council tax base of a council’s area, the larger its formula grant. This effect is modified, however, by the application of grant “floors”; that is, a guaranteed minimum percentage increase in grant each year on a like-for-like basis.”

To see the actual petition click here.
Cllr McGall is obviously disappointed with this response from the Labour Government. Communties like Oldfield Park in University towns and cities across the country are being affected by the growth in numbers of HMOs and the associated issues of: bad landlords, unkept gardens and properties, late night noise, increased pressure on parking, poor refuse and recycling management by some tentants and changes in the business and retail mix to cater for this section of society.

The issue isn’t about students but the over concertration of HMOs with a small geographical area. The national planning law on Use Class Orders must be changed to allow local councils to reflect local concerns and set limits on the number of HMOs in a particular street, or geographical area.

Central and local government most act to promote sustainable, balanced communities in which long term residents and tentants in HMOs can live together without street upon street turned over to the buy-to-let market.

Update on HMOs and Use Class Orders

Of course, the year has been dominated by the HMO Consultation. A report on the Consultation should have been published within three months of its ending in August, but it has still not appeared.

Apparently, the response was three times greater than expected – some 900 responses! Hopefully, the majority of these were from local residents, cllrs and MPs – but landlords and students were also campaigning against potential changes in the law. The volume of responses has caused the delay (the government has only one part-time officer dealing with them – Cllr McGall has spoken to her and she hopes to publish by the end of the year).

Meanwhile, we also have a new Minister for Housing & Planning, John Healey MP, who claims he is not well enough briefed as yet to make any decisions. Below is his reply to a question in the Commons, on 8 December 2009: –

Greg Mulholland (Leeds, North-West) (Lib Dem): Landlord licensing is one solution, but the use classes order is far more significant in many areas with concentrations of HMOs. Will the Minister give me an update on the progress of the Government’s examination of that? Does he agree that restrictions on the number of HMOs in such areas will increase the balance of the community and be in the interests of all?

John Healey: Indeed, and that is why our general policy is to promote mixed communities, as they tend to be better balanced and more stable. The hon. Gentleman asked for an update on our examination of whether changes to the use classes might help us pursue our objectives. At present, we are sifting the 900 or so responses that we have received to the consultation, and I hope to be able to update the House on this shortly.

See http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm091208/debtext/91208-0002.htm#09120872000021

Several MPs, including our Don Foster, are lobbying the Minister to take action. The danger is that an early election will sabotage all the progress we have made. If you haven’t already done so, it would be invaluable if you could lobby Don Foster MP, and ask him to put what pressure he can on the Minister to move things along.

Meanwhile, in the hope of a positive outcome in due course…