Bath Spa University Masterplan

Bath Spa University has developed a masterplan for the long-term redevelopment of the Newton Park Campus which is located to the west of Bath. The Park is a Grade II* Registered Park and Garden.  This unique landscape of historic importance is located in the Greenbelt and characterised by a significant Grade I historic house, nationally important scheduled monuments, the Wansdyke and St Loes Castle, a Grade I Listed castle keep, Grade II*listed Italian garden and stable blocks and significant curtilage structures including a walled garden.

For further information and details of the masterplan and current developments go to http://www2.bathspa.ac.uk/development/

Current & Past Planning Applications

12/02141/EFUL & 12/02142/LBA – Street Record, Bath Spa University Campus, Newton St. Loe, Bath

Erection 9 no. 3 storey (third floor in the roof) student residential blocks to provide 571 bed spaces to the southern end of the campus; the erection of an energy centre and single storey Estates and Services facilities buildings, the creations of external spaces for the storage of materials and vehicles and for the storage and processing of refuse and recycling, and the relocation of Newton Annexe providing offices and storage for the Estates Team to the south of the Walled Garden; associated access, parking, external lighting, drainage, infrastructure and hard/ soft landscaping works.

Demolition of farm buildings to the south of Melancholy Wood; lean-to buildings to the north of the walled Garden; Newton; Corston; and the former Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge. Creation of temporary car parking areas during construction (Phase 2 of University Campus Masterplan).

COMMENT The Trust strongly supports the principle of this proposal to increase student residences on campus. The dominance of student houses in residential areas is an issue for the City and there is a recognised impact on the shortage of family housing.

The Trust feels that the development of the site to support continued educational use, and the potential relief the provision of student accommodation would have on family homes, constitutes very special circumstances, and that the proposed development in this location is appropriate within the Green Belt. The degree of harm to the openness of the Green Belt is sufficiently mitigated by the existing built up backdrop combined with the landscaping proposals which will benefit the setting Similarly, the Trust strongly supports proposed development being on the site of the existing car park; a reduction in car parking is significantly beneficial in terms of carbon reduction and less vehicle flow.

It is regrettable that there has not been any further opportunity to review the development of proposals before the submission of this planning application. The design and detail has changed considerably since the last round of public consultation and events attended by the Trust. We have concerns about the roof profile of the new residential buildings. In section the flat roof between ridges appears to create unnecessary bulk.

Additionally we feel that ridge heights make the building appear rather compressed. A lower roof may help break up the bulky form. Further details of about the proposed patinated zinc roof covering are required, specifically about the colour and tone of this material.

The use of reconstituted stone is not at all supported – we encourage the use of natural Bath stone. Furthermore whilst we do not object in principle to the use of render, we are concerned about the large expanses of render proposed and the durability and maintenance requirements. Generally we do not understand the justification for the choice of materials which is not in conformity with the range of examples given in the design and access statement.

10/04747/EFUL – Street Record, Bath Spa University Campus, Newton St. Loe, Bath

Redevelopment of part of Newton Park for educational purposes as Phase 1 of the campus master plan to provide a two/three storey academic building (approximately 8,528.7 sq m) together with associated access, landscaping, car parking and infrastructure, in addition to temporary extension to main car park south of campus.

OBJECT Newton Park is a unique landscape of historic importance and efforts to sensitively restore it are welcomed. The original country house was designed in harmony with its context and in our view any new development should be subservient to its splendour. The existing modern buildings are very randomly scattered and of little architectural merit. Hopefully new development will help to enhance the site, and the setting of the many listed buildings and structures. The Trust will require more time to examine the proposed master plan in detail therefore these comments apply only to this detailed application for the new academic building.

The architects have provided illustrations to explain how they came up with the rhythm of the elevations to the proposed academic building. The result appears a little far-fetched. Any sense of the old building in reality would be lost in the new façade and it would not be obvious that it is a new interpretation of the house. This is because proposed elevations appear random, and any sense of order is lost in the inconsistent arrangement of the coloured clay cladding panels. The appearance does not seem to follow any recognisable architectural language. It is incoherent and garish and strangely baffling.

We do not therefore consider that the design successfully mirrors the house, nor succeeds in any effort to harmonise with the landscape and respect the building in size and scale. Either the existing building should be mirrored more perfectly, or the design should be something completely different, perhaps taking greater reference from the landscape.

For a building that is on the one hand seeking to fit into the existing character and grain, the overall bulk is too great, particularly that of the curved part.

The design of any new building within the campus ought to bow to the special interest and fragility of the registered parkland, instead of competing for attention trying to do something more brilliant. New buildings on this site ought to step back, and let the landscape and the historic buildings take front stage.

In our view the benefit of the building does not justify the harm that would be caused, and the same benefits could be achieved through a far more subtle and considered design.

The Trust therefore regrets that it cannot support this application for the new academic building. In our view the building by virtue of its inappropriate design, height, bulk, scale and appearance would detract from the setting of listed buildings in the Park within close and distant proximity and would have a detrimental impact on the character and historic interest of the registered parkland. The adverse impact the building would have on the designated heritage assets would fail to accord with B&NES Local Plan Policies BH2 and BH9 and National Planning Guidance contained within PPS 5, Planning for the Historic Environment, and thus would be sufficient reason for refusal.

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