Developer pushes for cable car in Bath, England

A housing developer campaigning to install a cable car in the traffic-clogged, historic city of Bath, UK has met with some early local resistance.

Drawing on a two-year baseline study it commissioned from consulting engineer Arup, developer Curo says the privately-funded airborne system would be a clean, affordable way of connecting communities on the steep hills south of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to downtown.

That is important, says Curo, given that the main roads leading off the hills are already choked with traffic.

But a group of residents has launched a counter campaign, saying the proposed cable car would be a "permanent blight on the skyline and pose an unacceptable threat to the city’s World Heritage status".

"We will seek to explode the myth that it represents a desired and viable transport option for south Bath, and expose Curo’s agenda for using the scheme to promote the value" of its developments, the group says on its website.

Curo’s plan sees the mile-long system going from its new housing development at Combe Down, called Mulberry Park, to the city’s main train station, Bath Spa. Curo has plans to build 700 homes on its 48-acre site.

It says the cable car could get commuters downtown in just six minutes, compared to a peak-time bus journey of 30 minutes, estimated by Arup. (Arup’s study is here.)

The system would have just two large cabins to reduce the visual impact, Curo said, and would be able to handle a maximum of 800 journeys an hour, providing people in south Bath a low-emission, affordable way of getting into town. It would also be a tourist attraction, Curo said.

Curo has not revealed designs for the cable cars, but the campaign group produced a composite image showing a cable car hanging over the Avon River behind the train station (pictured).

To gather support for the plan, Curo is holding a series of public information events in Bath in April and May.

Curo’s plan is supported by a number of local business figures and the student union president of the University of Bath, located near Combe Down. They have expressed their views in this promotional video.

The Bath Preservation Trust, a charitable organisation, is reserving its opinion on the cable car proposal, and said it would form a view based on the visual impact, the business case, and evidence on the traffic benefits.

It noted, however, that: "The traffic problems [in south Bath] are currently very serious and can only get worse with the new developments and the reduction of parking in town."

Image: An opposing campaign group’s composite image depicting a cable car in Bath (

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  1. It is a brilliant idea, one I think America is promoting. To keep below the 2% target anything that can be done to cut excess traffic should be encouraged and more essential than the sky line

  2. It is true that Bath traffic is a nightmare and can only get worse, but surely a carefully designed and aesthetically pleasing tram system would be the way forward, thereby pleasing all parties?

  3. It looks from the Baseline data that Curo may be shooting itself in the foot and contradicting the data used to get Planning Consent for the site.

    In terms of transport links into the city, it seems that the site is to be overdeveloped and will put incredible pressure on the already stretched transport infrastructure with the rest of the city bearing the brunt of the problems and the costs to resolve them.

    It begs various questions –
    1) Why did Curo buy this site not one of the other MOD or other developments sites that would be less of a transport problem.
    2) Why were such issues not resolved before Planning was Approved
    3) Is resolution of Curo’s ( and other development sites around Bath) transport issues more or less important than Bath’s World Heritage status? Will the new resident replace the towns income from Tourists?

    It will be interesting to see how this is to be resolved or is it Curo punting for publicity the way that the proposed “Merry Hill Tower” did for the developments in Brierly Hill back in the 1990’s??

    pwn April 17

  4. Good points, Pete Nowson. If I remember correctly, when CURO applied to build on this site, they argued that traffic from their new estate would be less than traffic from the Ministry of Defence site. They’ve changed their tune since then.

  5. I believe the point is that the scheme is to be part of a broader integrated transport solution for the city – not to solve all the problems but to contribute positively. It would not prohibit other improvements – such as a tram system – which in my opinion is never likely to happen due to the poor VfM return on investment.

    The public sector has limited funds so although there are some negative aspects to the proposal surely we should be applauding organisations that are willing to make a genuine difference?

    Also, it would benefit wider catchment than just the Curo site therefore not explicitly linked tot he Mulberry Park development.

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