Bringing new life and a new role to an under-valued asset
Downstream of the famous Pulteney Bridge lie some 3km of industrial development, much of which passed out of such use in the last decades of the 20th century. The gradual narrowing of a natural flood plain of the River Avon had led to periodic extreme flooding. In the 1960s, the riverbed was reprofiled, canalising it with sheet piling. This worsened the industrial era’s tendency to devalue the river into a place only for transport and the passage of waste. The river corridor effectively ceased to exist as one of Bath’s assets, even though its role in the city’s form and its geology has been so great.
When it became apparent that planning policy was completely ignoring its potential, Edward Nash was asked by Bath and North East Somerset Council to chair a multi-disciplinary advisory group to report on how the values of the 30 kilometres of Avon River within B&NES could be identified and brought forward. The resulting River Corridor Report, published in 2012, was a pre-cursor to the designation of Bath’s River Corridor Enterprise Area and is now tangible in major redevelopments along both of its banks. The report highlighted the great variety of ways a valued river can bring new life – economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental – to any settlements it passes through.