Following on from a successful event hosted by The Business Exchange South West, where Allan Lloyd spoke on behalf of CSquared about the real estate sector and its influence in Bath, Alastair Kimpton unpacks some of the key themes discussed the opportunities for Bath as a whole:
Nestled in the heart of England, the historic city of Bath has long been a symbol of architectural and cultural richness. Famous for its Roman-built baths and Georgian architecture, the city has drawn tourists and admirers from around the world for centuries. However, as we stand on the cusp of a new AI era, imagining the future in Bath involves envisioning not only the preservation of its rich history but also the infusion of innovation into its tourism, business, and real estate sectors.
Tourism: Balancing Tradition and Innovation
Bath’s tourism industry has been the lifeblood of its economy, with visitors flocking to explore the Roman Baths, the iconic Royal Crescent, and the stunning Bath Abbey. While preserving these historical treasures is paramount, the future of tourism in Bath can be safeguarded by a delicate mix of tradition and innovation. The tourism industry is constantly changing, with visitors seeking unique, and often one-off, experiences.
The city has long attracted European travellers and many day trippers from London. There is a need to pivot to higher-spend tourists from the US and the Middle East who will seek high end and quirky accommodation. At CSquared we have great visibility of the real estate market, especially the trend of apartments being taken out of the market to provide air B’n’B’s. Although providing high quality accommodation, in doing so, the stock of apartments for first time buyers and renters is being squeezed as investors seek better returns. The majority of hotel and B’n’B stays are for a single nighs,t with many rooms remaining empty during the week. Bath City Council could, much like Venice, adopt a minimum two night stay, forcing holiday makers to spend greater time, and ultimately money, in Bath.
Innovative Business: Fostering a Culture of Entrepreneurship
As we peer into Bath’s future, envisioning a thriving economy involves fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. The city has a unique opportunity to become a hub for creative industries, technology startups, and sustainable businesses. There have been few opportunities to create the appropriate space in Bath for such ventures, however, the success of TCN’s Newark Works has set the benchmark and is now 96% occupied. The challenge now is retaining these industries in a city with a deficit of mid-sized commercial space.
Andy Salmon, Executive Dean of Bath Spa University, spoke about the need to establish partnerships between local universities and employers to reposition Bath as a hotspot for innovation.
The creative sector, including arts, design, fashion and digital media, can flourish in a city like Bath. Initiatives to support local artists and creatives, coupled with the integration of public art installations and events, can contribute to a vibrant and dynamic cultural scene. Moreover, leveraging technology to promote e-commerce for local artisans can extend their reach beyond traditional markets, connecting them with a global audience.
Reshaping the Urban Landscape
The real estate landscape in Bath must undergo a transformative process to accommodate the evolving needs of both residents and businesses. Sustainable and adaptive urban planning can ensure that the city’s historic charm coexists harmoniously with modern necessities.
One avenue for transformation is repurposing underutilized spaces. Former industrial areas can be revitalized into mixed-use developments, featuring a blend of start-up hubs, residential spaces, and recreational areas. This not only breathes new life into neglected parts of the city but also addresses the growing demand for diverse and dynamic urban environments.
In imagining the future of Bath, a delicate dance between tradition and innovation is necessary. The city can continue to draw tourists with its rich history while embracing technology to enhance their experience. A thriving economy can be built on the foundation of entrepreneurship and creativity, positioning Bath as a hub for innovation. Finally, a sustainable and adaptive real estate landscape can preserve the city’s charm while meeting the needs of a modern and dynamic community.
This vision for the future in the City of Bath is not only aspirational but achievable through careful planning, community and business engagement, and a commitment to balancing the old with the new.