Film director Ken Loach has criticised recent developments in his home city of Bath, saying there is ‘too much imitation Georgian architecture’
Speaking to the Guardian, Loach, whose films include Kes and I, Daniel Blake, also accused planners of making ‘big architectural statements’ over preserving the city and said that the World Heritage Site had become ‘too clean’.
Loach told the Guardian: ‘Bath was dusty and a little shabby when we moved here. It did look its age and you felt its history in its streets and buildings and little alleyways. The sense of the past was palpable. There were some bad modern buildings but there was a patina of age.
‘The problem now is that it has been sharpened up for the tourists. It’s too clean. It’s like an old person with Botox. You don’t get the same sense of the past. It’s too clean, too sharp.’
He urged planners to ‘preserve the city in a minimal way rather than try to make big architectural statements’, continuing: ‘It’s like when you are restoring a picture – you do the minimum you have to just to keep the picture intact and make sense of it. That should be the approach.’
Loach went on to say: ‘There’s too much imitation Georgian architecture. Most cities are eclectic. There’s a bit of medieval, Georgian, some Victorian and some 20th century. That’s fine. Bath is different because it was built within 100 years or less. It has a homogeneity. You spoil that if you have an eclectic mix. You eat away at the homogeneity.’
In April, Penoyre & Prasad received planning approval for a £30 million development in the heart of Bath despite concerns from heritage bodies over its impact on the World Heritage Site.
Historic England had raised concerns about the height, bulk and elevation of the office building, the scale of the residential element and how the overall scheme would fit with the wider townscape and the city’s Georgian architecture.
This approval followed a number of previously contentious schemes in the city, including WilkinsonEyre’s £12 million bus terminal, which completed in 2009 and replaced the Art Deco building Churchill House, provoking a storm of protests, including a petition signed by more than 10,000 objectors.
Penoyre & Prasad and WilkinsonEyre have been contacted for comment.