Many people must have thought that nothing would ever happen with the industrial site on the south of the river along the Lower Bristol Road. I won’t go over the various false starts we have had in the past when it has come to the Newark Works but rather focus on what is before us now … and the starting gun has just gone off.
It is no exaggeration to say that one of the most significant planning applications is now in play to regenerate what has been a blot on the landscape for far too long.
It is important because it will provide a long term sustainable home for an existing brain powered business in the BMT group and it will deliver space for the growth of many more creative operations which will contribute to future local economic growth.
But of almost greater value than any of that is the message it will send out to the rest of the country and the wider world. That Bath is a place to come and do business, it is a City where ambition can thrive, where things can happen and where talent is recognised and rewarded.
We all know that nothing happens in Bath without a row. It usually involves people who want to see progress on one side ranged against those who want to see the place wrapped in aspic and ideally turned into a museum where visitors in fancy dresses can promenade as they did centuries ago.
That is not a sustainable future, so it is time for people to speak out if they want a vibrant city which offers jobs for our young people and a chance for them to make lives for themselves near their families in the place they have been brought up.
Councillors who make decisions on planning applications need to hear from people who share that view to give them the confidence they are doing the right thing in the long term interests of Bath. They will be bombarded by well organised, articulate people whose views are locked in the past and they need to know that they are hugely outnumbered by the silent majority with an eye on the future.
Obviously, it goes without saying that we don’t want to damage the environment of Bath because that’s one of the main reasons businesses choose to come and operate here. But that should not be used as an excuse for inaction. This is a vital moment in our history and I would love it if the silent majority made themselves heard so this opportunity does not slip through our fingers.