By Local Democracy Reporter John Wimperis: Another road in the centre of Bath is set to close for months for anti-terror bollards to be installed. Upper Borough Walls currently has a manually operated gate across the road, which Bath and North East Somerset Council is now planning to replace with retractable bollards.
The stretch of the street between Union Street and Northgate Street will be closed from 26 September for advance works, which are expected to be completed in November. After being open for Christmas, the road will close again for five months in January for the main work to install the bollards.
Pedestrian and wheelchair access will remain along Upper Borough Walls while the street is closed, and traders and customers will still be able to access shops along the street.
Similar bollards have already been installed on York Street. Meanwhile Cheap Street and Hot Bath Street have been closed since the end of May as bollards are being installed there, as the council aims to create a remotely-controllable boundary for Bath’s “city centre security zone.”
The zone — dubbed the “ring of steel” by critics — restricts access to several roads in the city centre between 10am and 6pm as a move by Bath and North East Somerset Council to protect crowded areas of the city centre from vehicle-based terror attacks.
Upper Borough Walls currently acts as an exit to the zone for permitted vehicles. While the road is closed, a signposted route will be posted directing vehicles out via Barton Street, through Wood/Quiet Street, and out through New Bond Street. Vehicles will need to turn left when exiting New Bond Street to avoid the bus gate during its hours of operation.
Meanwhile, access to Upper Borough Walls, Saw Close, and Westgate Street will be through a temporary entrance at the junction of Westgate Street and Westgate Buildings. Deliveries and waste collections will be possible via this entrance outside of the 6am – 10pm security zone hours.
Marshalls will be stationed at Westgate Buildings to help people navigate the closure.
A drop-in information and feedback session with the project team will be held on Thursday 7 September for people affected by the plans. The session will take place in the Drawing Room in the Roman Baths between 2pm and 6.30pm.
Bath and North East Somerset Council cabinet member for transport, Manda Rigby, said: “There is still access using the diversion route and we will do all we can to keep disruption to a minimum. The way the works are progressing are complex and this means some arrangements may change so we will endeavour to keep everyone informed as much as we can.
“I’d urge all those businesses, residents and Blue Badge holders who will be affected by the closure of Upper Borough Walls to come along and talk to the project team and discuss any concerns they may have at the drop-in session.”
The council says that it has carried out investigative work on the Upper Borough Walls site but, until contractors get on site, the timeline for completion can only be estimated.
Part of the challenge is Bath’s subterranean network of cellars and vaults, which has made installing the retractable bollards, which need space underground to retract into, a challenge.
The cost of the city centre security zone — which had been planned as £2.2m — spiralled to over £7m earlier this year amid the challenges, as well as goods and labour shortages and high inflation.
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