Three maps below illustrate the history of development that has created urban Bath south of the River Avon.
The 1887 map shows southern Bath is largely a 20th Century phenomenon although all of the primary roads that now serve it, Wellsway, Bloomfield Road, Midford Road, Englishcombe Lane and the roads that pass from Combe Down through Odd Down to Newton St Loe, were all then in place.
There were small clusters of dwellings around Odd Down crossroads and Rush Hill but Bath Union Workhouse (which later became St Martins Hospital) stood isolated on a triangle of roads on the plateau. Combe Down and Southstoke Villages then, as now, hung at the edge of the southern escarpment with well-formed village centres. Englishcombe, in contrast, is more of a scattering of cottages in the valley.
The 1933 map shows the dense Edwardian development of Lower Oldfield Park and later Southdown, the Oval and Englishcombe Lane. Odd Down has filled out but quarry sites remained; development has encroached in on St Martin’s.
Recent maps of the area and the aerial photograph view on panel 7 show how areas still undeveloped in the 1930’s infilled with suburban housing, to standard models paying no heed to the development patterns of village centres. Development form was clearly constrained to avoid the wooded slopes of Lyncombe, Widcombe, Fosseway and Bloomfield. The large area of fields of Odd Down remains undeveloped.
In recent years, south Bath has been heavily influenced by growth of the universities, healthcare and education, and commuting to the employment centre of Bristol. Odd Down has a strong identity of its own but not the urban village centre character of Combe Down.
Change in the last three decades has included the Wessex Water Headquarters, Bath Clinic, major investments in the Monkton Combe, Ralph Allen, Prior Park and Three Ways Schools. There has been the conversion and development of St Martin’s, the new St Martin’s primary school, Sainsbury’s Supermarket, growth at St Gregory’s School, the southern Park and Ride and now the replacement of MoD Fox Hill with mixed use development.
Also the redevelopment of the Rush Hill factories with housing and offices. The universities on Claverton Down and at Newton Park have grown and south Bath’s significance and status has been raised considerably by all these investments. Now the significance of the south city area to the economic, social and cultural identity of Bath and the B&NES district are enhanced by how the Fosseway links Bath to the economic activity of the Somer Valley, the city centre and the economic powerhouse of Bath’s two universities. It is important to the success of southern urban extension that it develops a strong well integrated identity and distinctive character for itself.
The flat plateaux of Bath’s many hills, such as Claverton Down are individually named. The Roman name for Bath was Aquae Sulis (literally; waters of the sun) and the local godess was Sulis Minerva, derived from the hot springs. Sulis is well established in the naming of Sulis Manor and Meadows, and so Sulis Down (or sunlit uplands) is the name underwriting the ambition of the project.
The universities on Claverton Down and at Newton Park have grown and south Bath’s significance and status has been raised considerably by all these investments...