The Mineral Water Hospital in the centre of Bath is under threat of redevelopment. At present, the building is set to become a luxury hotel. Jane Samson, Labour Chair, has been the face of the dissidents from the get-go. She continues her fight with increasing vigour.
The developers, The Fragrance Group, have submitted yet another request for planning permission. Though it is a slight revision of the previous one, as is typical, Samson still says it poses a significant threat, both to the wildlife of the Min Garden, and the extraordinary aesthetic of central Bath.
‘The job of planning officers is to look after the interest of Bath and its residents, not the interests of developers.’
Reportedly, The Fragrance Group are repeatedly appealing every decision made by the council, pushing through their plans mercilessly.
According to Jane, some of the behaviour surrounding the appeals, that’s been exhibited both by The Fragrance Group and the council itself, is highly irregular. Jane argues that they are making it incredibly difficult for people to formally object to the development.
‘We know the development will break the law’, claims Samson.
Samson asserts that, ‘the case of ‘The Min’ should go to a fully enquiry’, because of the complexity of the issues surrounding the development and the significant public outcry the development has caused.
Resorting to rhetorical questions so as not to feel the full fury of the billionaires, she asks, ‘Is there a background deal going on? Is this a deliberate manoeuvre?’
‘Why have they [the inspectorate] agreed to keeping the appeal on ice for so long? This is highly irregular and may be breaking the rules. Also, why did they agree to the classification of a ‘householder’ appeal when [the development] clearly meets the criteria for a full enquiry. Is the developer using the appeal process to pressure the council?’
‘Will councillors ask questions about what is looking like corruption in the council? Are councillors aware that this development will be illegal?’
With the breathless passion of the incensed, Samson states, ‘It is beginning to look like the planning committee and the inspectorate are talking together and ensuring that all bases are covered.’
‘Serious questions must be asked’, states Samson, with conviction.
The many details of these issues are outlined in Jane Samson’s interview with Petra Jones. Listen below.
Words by Jonathan R Parsonage