Planning applications for residential development on all three former MOD sites have now been approved. Whilst supporting the principle of housing on the sites BPT maintained positions of objection to both the Ensleigh and Warminster Road sites. We are seriously concerned about the implications of the approved development for Ensleigh at the gateway to the World Heritage Site. We feel that the 3-4 storey heights, combined with a layout that has little regard to the setting of Beckford’s Tower, compromises the value of the World Heritage Site and its setting. We recognise that the architects for the Warminster Road site made considerable effort to make changes to the scheme in response to concerns about the layout, bulk, design and materials. Our principal reason for objection relates to the design aesthetic for the whole site, which is inappropriate to the character of this part of Bath which, rather than being made up of Georgian terraces, is marked by the transition from terraces to villas during the mid-19th century.
In the summer the Trust responded to a pre-application consultation on the proposed primary school at Ensleigh, you can read this response here: Ensleigh Primary School Pre-app. An outline application for mixed housing on ‘The Chill’ has also been received. The Trust commented on this application (Week 33) on the basis that we regretted the lack of an overall site masterplan and that we were concerned about the fact that the site was served by only one access route. The Trust has recently (July 2016) consulted with the architects for the proposed Ensleigh care home scheme which we generally regarded favourably.
With regard to Foxhill/Mulberry Park, the Trust commended the project team for their approach to the redevelopment of the site and the efforts which have been made to engage residents and stakeholders. Four storey blocks were approved following reduction from six storeys. However, BPT remains concerned that buildings at four storeys are too high, especially on an elevated site which forms part of the very beautiful and distinctive Bath skyline. Placing buildings of this height on this site, which would be visible above the trees, and through the trees in winter, may have a harmful impact on some of the most important and iconic ‘green’ views from significant landmarks within the Bath Conservation Area. We are particularly concerned about the impact of light spill from buildings at this height which could be very damaging to the skyline above the city which remains dark in character and an intrinsic quality of the setting of the World Heritage site.
A detailed planning application for the first phase of development at Mulberry Park was submitted over the summer and you can read the Trust’s response here: Foxhill – Mulberry Park Response. The developer Curo then made some changes to the proposed scheme which included more detail on landscaping, however the Trust remained concerned regarding the finer detail of the proposed suite of materials. You can read our response to the revised application here: Foxhill -Mulberry Park Phase 1 Response Revised app. In June 2016 the Trust consulted with Curo and architects BDP on the proposed scheme for the Mulberry Park Community Hub, Pre-school and School buildings which should come forward in a planning application shortly. Likewise the Trust has also recently given feedback to Curo on their proposals for the regeneration of the Foxhill housing site adjacent to Mulberry Park.
Foxhill Regeneration: BPT has reviewed the outline application plans for the regeneration of poor quality housing stock at Foxhill. We again commend Curo on their collaborative approach to planning the scheme. One of our main concerns regarding the outline application is the net loss of social housing on the site (as the same proportion of social housing will be spread across the two sites, Mulberry and Foxhill). We are assured that Curo are committed to providing a high level of social housing but again we regret to see that so-called viability issues are impacting on Bath’s ability to provide housing for those with lower incomes.
Our other concern regarding the Foxhill plans is the possible cumulative harm to Bath’s green and wooded skyline from the proposed tall buildings on the crescent to the north of the site overlooking Bath. One of the special qualities of Bath which contribute to its WHS status is the undeveloped green and wooded slopes which form the bowl of the city; the creeping development of tall buildings on this ridge is visually harmful to this special quality (for example Bath University) and we see the Foxhill development (along with Mulberry Park) as causing potential further harm should plans for 5/6 storey buildings on the ridge line be permitted. You can read our detailed response here: Foxhill Outline App
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