Save Bath Sea Cadets, Support the planning application
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The proposed development safeguards the future of City of Bath Sea Cadets, a small local charity with limited resources, which has served the city since 1942, and been present at the site in question since a generous bequest in the early 50s.
Supported entirely by its own ability to fund-raise, the Unit does not have the resources to rebuild its premises, which are beyond economical repair and unfit for the Sea Cadet Corps aim of giving young people the best possible head start in life through nautical adventure and fun, based on the customs and traditions of the Royal Navy.
Many young people have benefited from the support of the Sea Cadets in Bath since its inception, and it is essential for the Unit's mission that it is able to retain a city centre site with direct access to the water, not only to ensure that its main activities of rowing, kayaking and power boating can continue, but also so that youngsters from the city, often from lower income families who do not have cars, can reach the Unit using public transport. An out of city location would not facilitate this, and would also prevent cadets from fulfilling their civic duties, for example at November Remembrance ceremonies, the Mayor Making, and other events, when the need to provide minibus transport to the city centre would make these activities impractical. Currently many cadets and staff walk to the unit, and from it to events around the city when required.
Cadets benefit hugely from the continuity provided by this historic Unit (which also is the only remnant of the Royal Navy's long-standing connection with this city, following the closure of the former Admiralty establishments at MoD Ensleigh and Foxhill). Many have achieved life-changing qualifications, in Engineering, First Aid, or Watersports, for example, which would not have been possible without the presence of a Sea Cadet unit of the kind offered here. However, the cost of re-building this dilapidated building, which is now an eyesore out-of-keeping with the many modern, multi-occupancy buildings along St John's Road, is beyond its means, even with considerable grant funding.
The proposed shared-use development gives the young people at the Sea Cadets a purpose-built facility designed to their specifications, of considerably better quality than the current premises, as well as exclusive access to the water's edge, via much improved riverside access. More importantly, however, it delivers this through a funding model that enables the ongoing work of the Sea Cadet Corps in Bath indefinitely, through the use of part of the building for valuable high-end graduate student accommodation. This enables the developer to deliver the Sea Cadet facility, and support the Unit financially, through the mutual benefit delivered by this building. Residential accommodation on a reduced scale, as proposed by some of those objecting to the concept, simply would not generate enough funds for the Sea Cadet Unit if it wished to retain its riverside footprint. In brief: the Unit could not afford to do this another way. They have tried for over 15 years to find a solution to this problem - this development is the ideal way to resolve it.
Many of the concerns of property owners and residents nearby are understandable, but the lack of shared student space on the property, the continuation of the Sea Cadets exclusive use of the outdoor space, and the high-end nature of the accommodation offered, means that the impact from the students resident there will be minimal for local residents. Adequate plans have been made for waste storage, cycle storage and access. The Sea Cadet Unit itself has a vested interest in ensuring that the character of the building is not seen to undermine the positive image put forward through its charitable work.
To conclude, I feel strongly that the plans take into account, very carefully, the need for a balance between maintaining residential amenities and sustaining this valuable local charity, and that if residents' objections were taken into account the long-term impact on the Sea Cadets in Bath would inevitably be that the Unit would cease to retain its City-Centre headquarters, and eventually be unable to operate altogether. I urge that the committee seriously considers the public benefit from enabling the Sea Cadet Unit to continue operating in improved facilities when reviewing this consultation.
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