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Parry's Holburne Museum revisions slammed as 'pointless'

A leading critic of Eric Parry’s proposed extension to the Grade-I Holburne Museum in Bath has claimed the architect’s revised scheme is a ‘feeble attempt at pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes.’

Former architect Stephen Marks told the AJ he thinks the changes made to Parry’s original design – unexpectedly refused by Bath and North East Somerset Council's planning committee in July – are ‘pointless’ and do not address the objector’s ‘fundamental’ concerns about the £10 million project.

Two weeks ago Parry submitted a redesigned scheme, featuring a ‘number of substantial changes’ including a 600mm reduction in height, the narrowing of the planned reflective pool and, most importantly, a change in colour.

The controversial blue ceramic in the initial designs has been swapped for a finish similar to Bath stone to allay some of the main fears about the extension’s contrast with the ‘honey-coloured’ surrounding buildings and garden walls.

However, the modifications have not appeased Marks, who feels the reworked scheme does little to address the potentially ‘significant harm’ of the scheme spelled out in the planning committee’s rejection notice.

The official refusal document, Marks points out, highlights concerns about ‘height, scale, design and use of materials.’

Marks said: ‘I have no doubt the changes are intended to pull the wool over everyone's eyes in the hope that what are in fact insignificant changes will persuade the council that they now have a scheme which is acceptable when the previous one was not.

‘Indeed, so obvious is it that this is the same building with the very slightest amendments – which do not in any way deal with the basic reason for refusal by the council – that I really think the exercise of making changes was completely pointless, except for public relations.’

Neither the museum or Parry was available for comment. A decision on the revised applications is due towards the end of the month.

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