The Chinese will regard the next twelve months as the year of the Monkey, but there is no doubt in my mind that for Bath, this should be the year of the Crane.
There are so many interesting developments that are on the verge of getting underway. Let’s hope there will be a general resolution to ensure they make real progress in 2016 and we can send out a message to inward investors that this is a City on the move and to existing successful businesses that this is the place in which they can thrive.
We should shortly be seeing work starting on the riverbank to create the crucially important flood alleviation system which will allow development to go ahead. A masterplan is being created which will transform Avon Street car park into a thriving new neighbourhood. Fingers are crossed that the carefully worked out scheme for the southern bank will also get underway soon, producing much needed office space for ambitious businesses and somewhere for creative companies to expand.
The new pedestrian bridge will help pull the two sides closer together and all the development will create a much improved riverscape where residents and visitors can enjoy the facility in a way that has not been possible before. Go to virtually any other major city with a river flowing through its centre and you will see that planning has been done to make the most of it. We have not done that in the past, but that is all about to change.
It will become an attractive business centre, but not a place that is deserted after six o’clock. This will be a vibrant place where people can live and enjoy their leisure time.
From a business perspective the number one priority is to see more modern office space in the city centre. This will ensure companies already operating in Bath have room to grow and every time a crane sets up on a new site it says that Bath’s reputation as a place where it is difficult to operate is undeserved. All that will create more jobs for our young people who want to continue to live and work in the City in which they have been brought up and also for those emerging from our College and Universities who would like to stay in the place in which they were educated.
It is true that development works on the sort of scale I am talking about will bring with it an element of disruption. That’s an unfortunate inevitability. But I hope people will be able to cope patiently with those short term problems, because the long term benefits to the local economy are so valuable.