Bath Abbey submits plans for new Footprint
Wednesday 25th July 2012
Bath Abbey has submitted a planning application for the first phase of its Footprint project which will help ease the strain on the Abbey’s medieval fabric by opening up over 200m2 of additional floor space at vault-level and upgrading the terraced houses of Kingston Buildings, to the south of the Church. The application will also enable the Abbey to tap into energy from the city’s hot springs for an eco-friendly heating scheme for the Abbey and the Roman Baths complex. An exhibition about the Footprint project will be held in the Abbey from Monday 30 July to Sunday 5 August and from Thursday 30 August to Thursday 6 September (during the Abbey’s usual opening hours).
The Abbey’s redevelopment programme has been carefully designed in partnership with Bath based architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio to create a highly sympathetic, innovative use of space to ensure the Abbey continues to thrive and is able meet the expectations of its diverse and changing community.
Over the last five years, the Abbey has been speaking with hundreds of people including local stakeholders, councillors and heritage bodies, providing them with a detailed picture of the proposed scheme. The Abbey’s own community of around 400 people has played a significant role in shaping the plans, helping put together a Statement of Need which highlights an urgent need for communal meeting areas and improved facilities and providing ongoing feedback about the project.
Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director, said: “The Abbey is a church for the city of Bath and our development programme reflects this. We have listened to people’s feedback and responded by adding a new choir school worthy of our world-class choir, opening up general meeting and learning spaces which will allow us to link up with even more schools, creating new ways of interpreting the Abbey’s 2,000 year old history to challenge and inspire visitors, and providing an eco-friendly and cost-effective solution to our heating demands.”
The plans have been three years in development, during which the Abbey and FCBS have been working in consultation with organisations including English Heritage, Bath Preservation Trust, B&NES Council and various church authorities. In November 2010, an independent Advisory Panel was formed to support and challenge the Footprint team and to assist it in key areas of decision-making and planning. The panel comprises stakeholders from a variety of backgrounds and interests, all of whom have a strategic interest in the future of Bath Abbey and the city of Bath.
In response to this consultation process, the initial plans have been revised in a number of ways and any changes to the Georgian row of terrace houses in Kingston Buildings will be kept to a minimum. The design of the new choir school, the exterior façade of Kingston Buildings and the appearance of the proposed new small meeting room on the top floor of the terrace have all been adjusted according to the feedback received and the existing Georgian style and architectural features will be retained as much as possible. The changes proposed will have little effect on the external appearance of the Abbey – with one exception, the South side: a minor extension to the clergy vestry, and changing some windows to doors in the 1920s Jackson extension.
Charles Curnock explained: “We have been keen to listen to people's views and have made a number of refinements to the plan based on their recommendations. The development will greatly enhance the atmosphere of the Abbey, improve the experience for visitors and worshippers alike and provide some much-needed facilities. The Abbey is open to the public seven days a week, with a wide variety of services, concerts, art exhibitions, lectures, charity events, university graduation ceremonies and live broadcasts throughout the year, but we’ve long outgrown the space. We’re also busier than ever reaching out to the local community through our work with schools, charities and the marginalised and disadvantaged in the city, all of whom will benefit from the changes we’re proposing.”
Members of the public will be able to find out more about the challenges and opportunities presented by the Footprint project, and give their views at a week-long exhibition at Bath Abbey from Monday 30 July to Sunday 5 August (during usual opening hours). The exhibition will continue for another week from Thursday 30 August to Thursday 6 September (during usual opening hours). Representatives from the Abbey will be on hand during the exhibition to answer questions.
In addition, the Abbey’s Footprint team will be hosting a number of presentations and discussions with local stakeholders and community groups. If you wish to attend or to find out more, please contact the Abbey Office or visit: www.bathabbey.org/footprint
Register for e-bulletin
Keep up-to-date with news from around the Diocese with our e-bulletin. Sign-up now!