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Kingston Mills plans are simply not good enough

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The planning requirements for the Kingston Mills site in Bradford on Avon seek a mixed development, the purpose of which is to secure economic regeneration and enhancement of the town centre.

The project needs to provide shops, offices and other employment uses with social, cultural, educational and leisure activities woven into the fabric of the scheme. In other words, a scheme that rises to the challenge of this high-quality location by providing a genuinely sustainable addition to the town. Issues such as access, air quality, the creation of meaningful public spaces, sustainability etc, must be properly addressed with historic buildings on the site re-used and their settings protected.

The illustrations in the AJ (2.5.02) show a scheme that meets few of the challenges. It is little more than a modern housing estate which, if approved, would become a textbook case of insensitive and inappropriate planning. Peter Stewart of CABE is reported to have indicated that he 'would be happy to see this scheme go ahead', but this is not the view of those of us who will have to live with the results. This is a scheme where planning problems remain unresolved, questions remain unanswered and opportunities are lost. The argument is not about style but about substance.

The secret discussions between CABE and the architects at the pre-application stage raise fundamental questions about responsibility and accountability.

By concentrating on the external appearance of the buildings and ignoring the wider context, CABE does the town a grave disservice. We would welcome the opportunity to present our case to CABE and correct some of the misleading statements put out by the Broadway Malyan public relations machine.

The picture of the Kingston Mills site as envisaged by Broadway Malyan, and reproduced in the AJ, has mysteriously removed the town lock-up from the scene, thus creating a view that will never be seen. The elimination of one of the town's famous landmarks is not the only misleading aspect of your report of this long-running saga, but is significant in revealing the true attitude of the developers and their architects to this important site. They see the town, its people, its architecture and history as an impediment to proposals and they would much prefer to see all such constraints removed. The bridge as illustrated is structurally impossible.

Bradford on Avon is recognised as one of the most attractive and important historic towns in the south west of England and the survival of much of its architecture and hi toric development is a lastin monument to those who ha contributed to, or fought for, i survival.

The town is at a crucial poi in its history and what happen now will set the pattern for gen erations to come; this propos is simply not good enoug There are widespread objection to the scheme from within th town and beyond. The Kingsto Mills site represents a once-inlifetime opportunity to mo the town forward and reuse long overdue. Yet another hou ing scheme for out-of-tow commuters is not the answer.

Sir Donald Mainland, chairman on behalf of Bradford on Avon Chamber of Commerce, Bradford on Avon Community Development Trust, Bradford o Avon Preservation Trust, and Bradford on Avon Traffic Forum

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