Oct – Nov 2012

Weeks 39-43  

12/04279/AR & 12/04280/LBA – 12A Westgate Street, City Centre, Bath BA1 1EQ

Display of 1no non-illuminated vinyl and perspex facia sign (regularisation).

OBJECT Westgate Street has currently been significantly invested in by the BID and the Public Realm and Movement Programme, and as part of this we have seen an improvement in shop signage in the street to match the Local Authority’s own Shopfronts Guide the treatment appropriate to listed buildings. There seems to be an increasing tendency in B&NES not to enforce inappropriate works but rather to regularise through retrospective planning applications works which should or would never be accepted had they come forward as a timely planning application. IF B&NES accept this application they are in essence legitimising inappropriate works to a listed building and undermining their own investment in this streetscape. In this case, the inappropriate design and material of the signage would detract from the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building and would fail to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of conservation and detract from the visual amenity value of the area. The proposal is contrary to policies BH2, BH6, BH17 and BH19 of the B&NES Local Plan and should therefore be refused, enforcement proceedings commenced on the unauthorised fascia and an appropriate plan brought forward in good time.

12/04095/FUL – Horsecombe Vale Farm, Beechwood Road, Combe Down, Bath BA2 5JT

Erection of a replacement of existing dwelling and associated works.

OBJECT Bath Preservation Trust notes that the proposed development has been reduced in scale compared with previous applications for a replacement house, and we welcome the reduced footprint, which will help to reduce the impact of the proposal on the openness of the Green Belt. However we continue to have concerns.

We note that the applicant’s case that Very Special Circumstances have been demonstrated rests on four elements: the permission granted in 2012 to extend the existing house (12/00219/FUL) which if implemented would result in a significantly larger building than is now proposed; the alleged reduced impact of the proposed design on visual amenity and the openness of the Green Belt; the demolition of various outbuildings; and the innovative and sustainable contemporary design. In our view the applicant needs to substantiate all four of these elements if the proposal is to comply with policies HG14 and GB1.

We are concerned that some elements of the design are rather urban in concept and will therefore appear alien in this Green Belt setting. In particular the large balcony with its sheet glass and other elements of the glazing on this elevation will be highly visible across the Midford Valley and may cause problems of reflection from a distance. Similarly the standing seam metal cladding (which according to the Design and Access statement is intended to be reflective) seems likely to be shiny and therefore visually intrusive. Metal cladding should have a matt or dull finish to reduce its visual impact in this sensitive location.

The applicant claims that the house will be innovative and highly sustainable, but the application is not specific about how this is to be achieved. If the house is to be an exemplar of sustainability in order to help meet the ‘very special circumstances’ criterion, then we would expect the applicant to be aiming for Code 5, not Code 4. We would also expect much more detail on issues such as insulation materials, renewable energy use etc.

Unless these issues can be satisfactorily addressed, Bath Preservation Trust considers that the proposal is contrary to Policies HG14 and GB1 of the B&NESLocal Plan and the adopted SPD ‘Existing Dwellings in the Green Belt’ and should therefore be refused.

12/04064/FUL – St Saviour’s Church, St Saviour’s Road, Larkhall, Bath BA1 6SD

Installation of solar photo-voltaic and solar thermal panels on the Church roof and installation of six ground source heat pump bore holes within the Church grounds.

COMMENT The Trust is generally supportive of the installation of measures to improve the carbon footprint of listed buildings as long as the visual amenity is not significantly reduced. We note that the installation is going to take advantage of the opportunity to repair the fabric of the roof and this will presumably ensure that the historic fabric will not be damaged by the installation of the panels. The relatively low pitch of the South Aisle together with the stone parapet mean that potentially the solar panels will create minimal visual impact in either long or short views, however the choice to use the upper part of the roof does increase the visibility (which increasing the functionality as well).

We note that the solar installations will only provide a proportion of the energy needs and we would prefer to see energy conservation measures installed at the same time if there are any suitable given the fabric of the church.

12/04216/FUL – Kingswood School, Lansdown Road, Lansdown, Bath BA1 5RG

Erection of a new classroom building and associated works.

COMMENT Bath Preservation Trust approves the thoughtfulness of the architectural approach, with on the whole a successful blend of vernacular and contemporary styling to create a building appropriately of its time while respecting its context. However we feel that the cantilevered ‘cutaway’ entrance area undermines this thoughtful approach and, as designed, debases the gratifying solidity of the rest of the building. We think this element could undermine the long term durability of the design approach. Presumably this is intended to improve the flow and/or light levels into the internal courtyard area but there would appear to be amply room anyway without this design approach. Similarly, we are concerned that the slate clad ‘chimneys’ may also be a design ‘gimmick’, especially as the adjacent older building is without chimneys.

In addition, to the extent that the sustainability elements might impact on the design (e.g. photovoltaics) they should form part of the submitted design. We note that the south face consists of gable ends and it is not clear where pvs would be placed for efficient function.

Equally the materials should be more clearly defined at the application stage rather than left to condition. For example, we are not convinced by the matched brick, on grounds that seeking a match can often be harder than presenting a strong statement in its own right. The vertical feature of the down pipes is a strong characteristic but their materials are not determined – zinc, powder coated steel, cast iron or plastic? Similarly, the small clay bricks are specified as slate-blue on the elevation drawings but this is not mentioned elsewhere and there is insufficient detail about the perforate panels on the windows.

12/03792/FUL – Sainsbury’s Supermarket Limited, 170 Frome Road, Odd Down, Bath BA2 5RF

Use of land as a temporary car park until 31 December 2015 and associated engineering works (Aggregate Macadam Surface) (Retrospective).

COMMENT The Trust does not object to the design scheme proposed, but we are concerned that important detail with regard to how the timetable will be restricted, and how the landscaping will be enforced, is unclear and the proposal should not be determined favourably unless conditions are imposed which clearly restrict the timetable including return to original state at the end of the time period; and that that measures protect the existing hedgerow and provide edge landscaping as proposed on drawing PL1005, are in place before being brought into use.

12/04211/FUL – 19 Bloomfield Park, Bloomfield, Bath BA2 2BY

Provision of a loft conversion with rear dormer.

OBJECT The Bath Preservation Trust considers that overly large flat roof dormers are not in the interest of good design and fail to reinforce the local distinctiveness of the Bath World Heritage Site and the conservation area. In this particular instance the D&A statement makes claims for the proposal, particularly the subservience of the design, which are not borne out by the proposals themselves which show a wholly over‐dominant building. Moreover we are surprised to understand from other objectors that the work has already started. The strong horizontal emphasis the box form presents is a visually intrusive feature in the Bath townscape. The proposal is contrary to policies BH1, D2 and D4 of the B&NES Local Plan and section 7 of theNPPF.

12/03706/FUL – Street Record, Stall Street, City Centre

Provision of a kiosk combining public telephone service and ATM service to replace existing public telephone kiosk.

COMMENT Bath Preservation Trust supports the replacement of poorly designed ‘modern’ telephone kiosks and their replacement with K6 kiosks adapted for modern functions. However this application is extremely muddled and unclear. First, it refers to conversion of the existing kiosk as if this were a K6 whereas it is clear from the photos that it is not. Secondly, we regret that there is no coherent overall strategy for replacement of kiosks and instead they seem to be done piecemeal, which does not befit WHS status. Finally, we are aware that there are number of K6 kiosks whose relocation was a condition of the Southgate development: if this K6 is part of that scheme to discharge this condition is should be described as such and the overall reinstatement strategy made clear.

12/03737/AR – 6 Broad Street, City Centre, Bath BA1 5LJ

Display of 1no non-illuminated fascia sign, 2no non-illuminated hanging signs and 2no non-illuminated signs to replace existing signage.

OBJECT We are pleased that this application respects the policy for non illuminated signs. However the materials proposed are unsuitable for a listed building and a shopfront in the conservation area, and contrary to B&NES shopfront guidance. The works, by virtue of the use of inappropriate materials are considered to be detrimental to the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building Section 12 ???Conserving & Enhancing the Historic Environment’ of the NPPF and Local Plan Policies BH2, BH6 and BH17 and should either be revised or refused in its current format.

12/04063/OUT – Crescent Office Park, Clarks Way, Odd Down, Bath

Erection of a residential care home (Use Class C2) with associated car parking and servicing.

COMMENT This application appears to be identical to the last. The Trust continues to object and our reasons are repeated.

The Trust considers the principle of developing a residential care home at this location to be acceptable. However, we reserve concerns about the use of an Outline application for these proposals, which seem more advanced than is appropriate for a typical Outline application. The footprint of the proposed building and parking seems very precise for an outline application – if plans are this far developed, then is it not appropriate for a full planning application to be submitted? This would allow for a full and proper assessment of the impact. We are concerned that the bulk and massing of a three storey building on the footprint indicated would be unduly prominent in the local townscape. In addition, we anticipate that, despite the additional area of informal open space for residents, there may be issues in relation to natural light and landscaping which would need to be addressed carefully and in detail in a full planning application.

12/03949/EFUL & 12/03950/CA – Twerton Mill, Lower Bristol Road, Westmoreland, Bath BA2 1EW

Erection of student accommodation (sui generis) comprising (378 student bedrooms in studio/cluster flats and 50 bedrooms in 9no. town houses) comprising of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 storey buildings; together with 5 no. Parking spaces (4 disabled and 1 management space); 116 covered cycle spaces; 2 no. covered refuse/recycling stores; covered plant room; vehicular access from the east (Mill Lane); emergency/maintenance vehicular access from Lower Bristol Road and new hard/soft landscape treatment following demolition of existing industrial/office buildings.

OBJECT Bath Preservation Trust objects to this application for a number of reasons.

These objections should be set in the context that we think this scheme does have some merits. While our preference is for student accommodation to be provided on-campus if possible, we believe that the provision of purpose-built student accommodation off-campus, if there is proven need, offers the opportunity to reduce the pressure on family housing being used for student accommodation in Bath.

We also think that the quasi-industrial architectural style, subject to the caveats below, is appropriate for the location, and that the architects have considered in substantial detail the history and built historic environment of the site.

However we are very concerned on a number of points which relate to both policy and architecture.

In policy terms, the planning statement provided with the application puts forward a case for this development which nevertheless breaches elements of Council policy or draft policy. First, we note that the Draft Core Strategy says the following of Twerton Riverside:

• Twerton Riverside will function primarily as a multi-use economic development area.

• Refurbishment, redevelopment or intensification for industrial use will be welcomed at Twerton Riverside. Proposals for the loss of industrial land and floorspace at Twerton Riverside will be assessed against evidence of current and future demand, the availability of suitable alternative provision within Bath for displaced occupiers and the benefits of the alternative uses being proposed.

• Residential-led or non-economic development led proposals will be acceptable only where economically-led development would fail the sequential and impact texts of PPS4 or is not commercially viable.

Given there is an existing small industrial use on the site we would like to be clear where this is being displaced to; whether other industrial use was pursued on the site; and whether there has been an appropriate sequential process before the decision to the bring forward this site for student accommodation.

Secondly, the Building Heights Strategy suggests 5+1 storeys should be a maximum height even in this area which is a distance away from the City Centre.

Thirdly, we are not convinced by the sequential and exception test in relation to flooding, which suggests that in fact there are more suitable sites potentially available, especially in light of the proposed decommissioning of the gasholder.

In architectural terms we have further reservations. First, the gateway is the only substantial remaining fragment of the historic site, but is being treated in a way that denies its function by opening more or less against a gable end. This gateway should have provided an emphasis and axis to the plans for the site rather than being shunted sideways as an afterthought.

Secondly we are concerned that there is overdevelopment of the site. While we support approach of very limited parking provision and good provision of bicycle stores, we do not believe there is adequate access to the site for drop off and delivery of students, nor is the potential for open areas fully realised. This is largely because of the transverse block placed behind the gateway, which blocks East/West access through the site and looks like an ‘added extra’.

Finally we are unconvinced by the ‘folded’ gable on the main building or by the lift shafts which add considerable height to the overall structure. Their supposed industrial reference to chimneys seems contrived and we wonder whether restricting lift access on the top storey while bringing the lift shaft below the gable height would be preferable.

Overall, therefore while seeing elements to support in this proposal (in particular the attempt to respond through an industrial ‘aesthetic’ to the history of the site) we believe it is let down by a desire to overdevelop both in height and mass, with insufficient respect paid to the retained history and a dubious pathway through the policy framework.

We therefore OBJECT to this proposal on grounds that it fails to fulfil the policy framework for the draft core strategy, the draft Building Heights strategy and the Flood sequential testing as well as being contrary to policy BH 1 on grounds on height and NPPF 132 (loss of significance of a heritage asset).

12/03868/AR – The Clarks Shop, 10 Union Street, City Centre, Bath BA1 1RR

Display of 2no internally-illuminated box signs.

OBJECT Whilst the proposed signs are a notable improvement on the existing random advertising in ‘window boxes’, inappropriate illumination is still proposed. The Trust will continue to object to illuminated signs within the conservation area and in the World Heritage Site. The light is harmful to the visual amenity value of the area and the light fittings neither preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. The proposal is contrary to policies D2, D4, BH1, BH2, BH6 and BH17 of the B&NES Local Plan and should therefore be refused.

12/04616/AGRA – Field Parcel 6823 Adjacent To Kennet And Avon Canal, Warminster Road, Claverton, Bath BA2 7BJ

Erection of a portal framed agricultural storage building (Following 12/04193/AGRN).

OBJECT Bath Preservation Trust would be OBJECTING to this application were it a planning application, on grounds inter alia of inappropriate development in the green belt and AONB. We are aware however that this is notice of Permitted Development, argued on grounds that this is agricultural development permitted under the GPDO.

As it is we ask that B&NES closely satisfies itself that this does constitute permitted development in particular in relation to criteria of size and requisite floor space for the size of the holding. We would also ask whether the siting is appropriate both from a Highways point of view and in terms of the visual impact of the barn. If B&NES is not satisfied on either of these points we hope that they will give timely notice that full planning permission will be required.

12/03725/FUL – 11 Newbridge Road, Newbridge, Bath BA1 3HE

Conversion of 4 storey house into four flats with single storey rear extension.

COMMENT The Trust’s only comment is that the extent of the application is unclear from the information provided and we urge the applicant to omit the dormer window, as it would have a detrimental impact on the streetscape.

12/04451/FUL – 157 Bloomfield Road, Bloomfield, Bath BA2 2AU

Erection of a new house in the garden of 157 Bloomfield Road, including the partial demolition of a stone garden wall.

OBJECT As previously stated it is the Trust’s view that walls to which this application relates are listed Grade II* within the curtilage of Bloomfield Crescent. To explain, the listing of Bloomfield Crescent, under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, means that “(b) any object or structure within the curtilage of the building which, although not fixed to the building, forms part of the land and has done so since before 1st July 1948, shall be treated as part of the building.” Given the evidence in the 19th century OS maps there cannot be any doubt that the walls form part of the pre-1948 curtilage to the Crescent. In any case the revised list description now specifically mentions the walled kitchen gardens as part of the development of Bloomfield Crescent. Despite the division in ownership between the garden and the listed property the kitchen garden, and surrounding wall which is the subject of this planning application, remains within the physical boundary of the designated historic asset.

The Grade II* listed buildings and structures at Bloomfield Crescent are the earliest work of Charles Harcourt Masters, regarded as one of the masters of Picturesque design; the development is recognised as an outstanding suburban development of its day, and its exhibition of a mixture of urban and rural vernacular forms, and plan form, is now quite rare.

The adjoining walled kitchen gardens provided for the properties at Bloomfield Crescent. These gardens are still accessed from the Crescent along a private footpath, and along with a rear courtyard area, communal gardens, coach house, stables, wash-house, spring and well, sustained a self-sufficient suburban settlement. The evidential value of this human existence provided by these structures is considerable.

Much of the stonework in the construction of the walls is surviving from the 18th century and many of the walled gardens continue to serve their original purpose. The walls are of considerable aesthetic value to the character and setting of the heritage asset, local townscape character, and the development makes an important contribution to the special qualities of the World Heritage Site (especially 18th century architecture and town planning).

The works that have been undertaken to demolish part of the garden wall have been carried out with flagrant disregard for planning and listed building control and as a result have caused great harm to the character and setting of the listed buildings, and the visual amenity and townscape value of the area. The demolition of the wall has had a harmful impact on the character and integrity of the listed structures and the group value of the historic development.

We are not at all convinced by the applicant’s argument for the creation of access. The need for the creation of vehicular access and parking is not sufficient to justify such harm and loss of the significant wall. Approval of this retrospective application would set an undesirable precedent that individually and collectively would be detrimental to the special interest of the heritage asset. In addition the accumulative effect of the approval of piecemeal alterations such as this would over the passage of time contribute to the erosion of the significance of the heritage asset as a whole.

This proposal therefore fails to accord with national planning policies contained within PPS5 and Local Plan Policies, D2, D4, BH1, and BH2. This application should be refused and the Local Planning Authority must then take action to remedy the breach of planning and listed building control. The authority is urged to request that the landowner reinstates the wall, and undertakes repair to damage in accordance with an appropriate revised listed building application.

12/04248/FUL – Pope’s House, 2 Lyncombe Hill, Lyncombe, Bath BA2 4PF

Alteration to garden steps, replacement of PVC external doors and internal alterations.

SUPPORT The Trust supports this application to alter the rear steps and garden steps and replacement of external PVC doors. As we have not inspected the interior, our comments only relate to the external alterations proposed. The rear steps and garden steps are not thought to be of significant historic or architecture interest but the alterations will harmonise with the prevalent character of listed building. The proposed alterations to remove the PVC external doors and replace with timber doors would enhance the character and appearance of the listed building and the conservation area within which it is located.

12/04441/AR – 1 – 4 New Bond Street, City Centre, Bath BA1 1BE

Display of 4no non-illuminated fascia signs and 1no externally-illuminated fascia sign to replace existing signage.

COMMENT The Trust is pleased that the bulk of the proposed signage is non-illuminated. The re-use of the existing downlighters is acceptable within the courtyard but we would prefer to see 2 fascia signs on the cornice. Also, we would like to take this opportunity to remind the applicant that care needs to be taken to ensure that there is no stainage from the brass signs. Overall, the Trust would prefer to see a traditional approach to the sign writing, which would be much better in quality and appearance if they were traditionally painted rather than offset lettering.

12/04100/LBA – Street Record, Sydney Buildings, Bathwick, Bath BA2

Provision of new lantern fixed to lamp post No.6 on the pavement outside No.30 Sydney Buildings.

SUPPORT The Trust supports this application to reinstate a replica lantern to the 1830 Stothert & Pitt lamp post. The new lantern is much more in keeping with its character than that which is existing. By using LED lights in the lantern, modern technology allows for historical verisimilitude. This is an exemplar for other historic lamp posts.

12/04562/FUL – The Galleries Shop, Freshford Lane, Freshford, Bath BA2 7UR

Erection of extension to Freshford Shop to increase cafe area and decking (amendment to 12/00207/FUL).

COMMENT We appreciate the value of local shops and believe they are important to the local community. However, we would like to take this opportunity to remind the applicant that further development should not detract from the openness and character of the Green Belt. Even in this discreet location, careful consideration needs to be given to its impact on the Green Belt.

12/04585/AR – Kensington Showrooms, London Road, Walcot, Bath

Display of 1no internally-illuminated fascia sign and 4no outside downlights (Resubmission).

OBJECT The Trust will continue to object to illuminated signs within the conservation area and in the World Heritage Site. The proposed illumination is unsympathetic and would detract from the visual amenity value of the area. The proposal is contrary to policies D2, D4, BH6, BH19, BH20 and BH22 of the B&NESLocal Plan and should therefore be refused.

12/04595/AR – Cheltenham & Gloucester Plc, 10 Quiet Street, City Centre, BA1 2JU

Display of 1no non-illuminated projecting sign, 1no non-illuminated branch logo, 1no non-illuminated vinyl overlay and 1no non-illuminated internally applied vinyl.

OBJECT This application is not at all clearly presented, and should not be determined until fully clarified. The drawings are poor and confusing – is the shop front being painted white as well as the fascia? If so, why is the hanging sign blue? Whilst the waist level vinyls are less intrusive in the street scene, we do not support the unconsidered use of standard ‘house’ signs on listed buildings. We highly recommend that proper sign written logos, on painted timber (matching the shop front and preferably blue), are used for both high level signs. The signage, by virtue of its materials and ‘house style’, would neither preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area and would detract from the special architectural interest of the listed building. The proposal is contrary to policies D2, D4, BH1, BH2, BH6 and BH 17 of the B&NES Local Plan and should therefore be refused.

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