Homebase Appeal Allowed, Benefits of Development would ‘Substantially Outweigh’ Harm to the World Heritage Site

Homebase Appeal Allowed, Benefits of Development would ‘Substantially Outweigh’ Harm to the World Heritage Site

As of 2nd September, the appeal for a proposed care community on the Homebase site has been allowed. You can read the full appeal decision notice here.

Application 20/00259/FUL was originally refused at Planning Committee on grounds of poor design due to scale, height, bulk and massing and inappropriate materials with resulting harm to the World Heritage Site.

Bath Preservation Trust appreciates the potential of the site for redevelopment. However, we opposed the scheme as we felt that the proposed design would not reinforce local distinctiveness due to its excessive height, scale and massing, and incongruous design and use of materials. We spoke against the development at the appeal hearing and emphasised that it would result in cumulative harm to views across and within the World Heritage Site.

The inspector emphasised that the site was visibly distinct from the Georgian city due to its location south of the river and the modern character of surrounding development such as the Western Riverside and Albert Crescent developments. In this context, the proposed height, scale, and design of the development was concluded to be appropriate. The use of industrial materials such as brick and sheet metal were felt to be more ‘honest’ to the history of the site.

As the existing site is considered to be harmful to the setting of the Bath conservation area, the inspector concluded that the development would enhance the appearance and significance of the conservation area. There was felt to be limited harm to the setting of the Grade II* Norfolk Crescent despite concerns raised by Historic England, Bath Preservation Trust, and the conservation officer.

There would be harm to the planned views in and across the World Heritage Site, but the inspector considered that harm would be limited to a small area of the World Heritage Site and would ultimately be outweighed by “the substantial, cumulative weight of the identified public benefits which are supported by the Framework and which includes a positive enhancement to the setting of the BCA [Bath Conservation Area].”

Bath Preservation Trust continues to have concerns about the excessive height of large-scale riverside developments in the city with resulting harm to townscape views and the special landscape setting of the World Heritage Site. We resist the predominant use of brick and an increasing variety of designs. We continue to emphasise the need for locally distinctive and cohesive design for major contemporary developments in this area.