A bus company running a depot on an island artists want to take over will not be leaving “for a considerable time.”
First Bus currently uses Weston Island in the River Avon in Bath as a bus depot but has said it is planning to move the facility.
There are plans, which have the support of local MP Wera Hobhouse and Bath and North East Somerset Council leader Kevin Guy to see the island transformed into an arts space when the bus depot moves.
Local group Bath Arts Depot urged the council to let the site be developed for arts, with hopes to set up a gallery, studio space, sculpture park, and education programme there.
But it is set to be some time before the island is free for the artists to take over. First still has not found a site to relocate the depot to, and the bus company is currently investing in new solar panels for the site.
A First spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we are installing PV panels on Weston Island depot.
“At some stage we will be looking to relocate. However, at this stage we have not found a suitable location and, if we did move, this would not happen for a considerable time yet.”
The bus company is currently planning to install 99.2kW of solar panels across the roofs of the depot buildings.
When the island does become available, Bath and North East Somerset Council’s local plan partial update, which was passed in January, states that there may be opportunities for “public facing uses such as creative, arts-based activities” on the island.
Nicola Turner, director of Bath Art Depot, welcomed the inclusion in the local plan, saying: “This is an important stepping stone for our long-term vision for the island, and means that we can start building the funding needed to purchase the island, and create an exciting, innovative, relevant and transformative creative destination for the South West.”
The group’s vision for the island is inspired by the NDSM wharf in North Amsterdam, a former shipyard which now houses one of the Dutch city’s most vibrant and arty neighbourhoods.
LDRS, John Wimperis