Wera Hobhouse has weighed into the debate surrounding a proposed development in Oldfield Park which would see a local dance school lose its studio.
Plans to redevelop the former Scala cinema in Oldfield Park, site of a Co-op, were put forward by local developer Rengen in 2019. The plans were subsequently revised to grind down opposition. Rengen is now proposing to house 16 students above the Co-op and 72 more in a separate building, with another block providing nine residential flats. None of these will be classified as affordable housing.
The studios have been home to five separate dance schools, all of which have struggled to find suitable spaces to replace the Scala Dance Studio. Original plans sought to include a smaller studio than what exists now meaning class sizes would have had to be slashed from 20 down to six.
The latest proposals show that there is little to no space allocated for the studios.
Wera has led a campaign to ensure any future student housing is built on campus, asking the public to support Bath and North East Somerset Council’s plan. The calls come as excessive student housing has made it increasingly difficult for residents to buy or rent homes in Bath.
Earlier this year it was also announced that the University of Bristol would house students in Bath, using surplus student housing in the city. Students would be given free travel vouchers to Bristol every day. The move was criticised for making local residents bear the brunt of the University of Bristol’s lack of preparation for the academic year.
Commenting on the plan, Wera said:
“This is another example of developers favouring speculative student development over the local community. Developers should honour their commitment to the local community. Scala Dance School is at risk of becoming the latest casualty of speculative student development in Bath. I would urge the developers to rethink the plans and I stand with the dance school in opposition.
“This is just more student accommodation. It is not what locals want or need. The dance school provided a valued community space for local residents and this must be considered.”