Waterworks Cottage, so named because of its historic associations with the Charlcombe Water Works, is a mid-19th century cottage situated on the outer edges of the Bath World Heritage Site. It has become an increasingly rare indicator of the original industrial use of the area due to the previous demolition of other related built features such as the reservoir and engine house. Whilst unlisted, it is considered to be a building of local importance and as such is a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA). It additionally forms part of significant landscape views across the Woolley Valley.
It was confirmed that the demolition of the cottage could go ahead without planning permission, as this would be compliant with the requirements of permitted development. Demolition is anticipated to take place May-September 2023.
2023 – Variation of Conditions Attached to Planning Permission
Application 23/02958/VAR was submitted, following the granting of planning permission for application 23/00895/FUL. The latest application
proposes a variation of several conditions attached to the permission, including amendments to the drawings to increase the footprint of Plot 2 and add a fourth bedroom, and relax conditions relating to securing soft landscaping and ecological mitigation works.
BPT expressed concerns with further alterations to the scale and massing of development once the principle of development on the site had been secured at Planning Committee. We questioned the relaxing of landscaping and ecology conditions where the success of the development would be dependent on high-quality landscaping and planting.
Read BPT’s response here.
2023 – Resubmitted Proposals for Residential Redevelopment of Cottage Site with Design & Layout Amendments
New application 23/00895/FUL has since been submitted as an amendment to the refused scheme, and continues to propose two new dwellings in a contemporary style on the site to replace the existing cottage. Where the scheme remains largely similar to the earlier, refused application 22/04122/FUL, there was a slight reduction in building height and Plot 2 would be relocated to the far eastern corner of the site set back from the road. BPT has continued to oppose the demolition of the cottage, which is recognised as a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA) and a feature of local interest.
Read our response here.
The application was referred to Planning Committee, with a recommendation to permit. At the June meeting of the Planning Committee, councillors voted to defer a decision to the next meeting, in favour of a site visit. At the following July meeting, a motion was proposed to refuse the application on grounds of the scale and blockiness of the proposed development and resulting impact on the surrounding area, though this failed to be passed. Councillors considered the benefits of the scheme, in providing well-designed, contemporary, low-carbon housing, and acknowledged that positive changes had been made to the previous scheme. A motion to delegate to permit the application was passed, and planning permission was granted
It was noted that the demolition of the Cottage itself was not considered as part of the planning decision, where it had already been confirmed by the local authority that demolition would not require planning permission.
2022/2023 – Revised Proposals for Development of Two Contemporary Dwellings on Cottage Site
Application 22/04122/FUL was submitted with revised proposals for the development of the Waterworks Cottage to provide two new-build detached houses. This scheme would be dependent on the demolition of the cottage, although it has been separately confirmed that prior approval is not required. BPT continued to reiterate concerns with the adverse impact of development on local townscape character and the setting of the conservation area and World Heritage Site.
Read our objection response here.
The application was subsequently refused in January 2023 on grounds of failing to “contribute[s] and respond[s] to the local context, thus failing to maintain the character and appearance of the surrounding area.” The decision is available in full here.
2022 – Prior Approval Request for Demolition of NDHA under Permitted Development Rights
We were alarmed by the following submission of demolition notice application 22/01884/DEM for the demolition of the cottage under Permitted Development rights. As the cottage is unlisted and located outside of the conservation area, the cottage does not require full planning permission for demolition works. Strong objections were raised by local residents and BPT on grounds of the complete loss of a NDHA; we encouraged the retention and reuse of the cottage as a family home and a notable aspect of the area’s local character and history.
Read our May 2022 submission here. The application was refused on grounds of insufficient information regarding demolition methods, traffic management, and ecology.
Application 22/02297/DEM was submitted within days of the decision to address reasons for refusal; BPT reiterated harm to a NDHA as well as highlighting a continued lack of up-to-date ecological information. Proposals were again refused on grounds of an out-of-date bat survey.
In September 2022, it was concluded by the case officer that prior approval was not required for the demolition of the cottage. Where development can be demonstrated to meet the prior approval requirements set out in legislation, it is found to be Permitted Development.
2020 – Planning Application for Demolition of NDHA & Development of Three Contemporary Dwellings
Along with local residents, we were highly concerned when proposals came forward at the end of 2020 (see application 20/04067/FUL) for the demolition of the cottage to build three new detached dwellings on the garden site. We objected on grounds of the unjustified loss of a NDHA in its entirety. We had added concerns regarding the overdevelopment of a green garden buffer site on the edge of the World Heritage Site overlooking the Green Belt and Cotswolds AONB. The proposed blocky form and massing of development was not considered to be sensitive to the local area.
Read our November 2020 submission here.
BPT welcomed revisions to the scheme to retain and refurbish the cottage, although we maintained ongoing concerns with continued proposals for the construction of two new dwellings on the garden site. The scheme was referred to Planning Committee in August 2021 with recommendation to permit by the case officer. BPT spoke against the application on grounds of overdevelopment of the site and harm to a NDHA. Planning Committee subsequently voted to refuse the application on grounds of failure to respond to local character and ecology concerns.
The decision was subsequently appealed; the inspector concluded that the harm proposed would be “significant” and would not be outweighed by limited public benefit, and the appeal was dismissed.