120 Wells Road, Lyncombe, Bath
120 Wells Road is an unlisted mid- to late 19th century detached villa, originally Chelsea Villa, situated within the Bear Flat character area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It remains a grand three storey addition to the streetscape, set back from the roadside within the surviving remnant of its original, expansive garden setting which stretched further east and west. This has since been converted to hardstanding for off-street parking. Whilst the villa has now been subdivided into apartments, it retains its original appearance and external character as a single dwelling, articulated in coursed ashlar stone with ground floor bay windows topped with decorative stone balustrades and stone-faced pitched dormer windows. The building retains attractive detailing such as its timber single pane sash windows and metal roof ridge cresting. Whilst the surrounding car park is of detriment to the original, intentional setting of the villa, its retained historic appearance, character, and detailing, plan form, and spacious setting in a streetscape which has experienced significant amounts of later 20th century infill, are of local significance and positively contribute to the conservation area. Consequently, 120 Wells Road is recognised as an unlisted building of merit in the Bear Flat & Oldfield Park Conservation Area Character Appraisal, and can therefore be considered a Non-Designated Heritage Asset.
BPT originally responded to application 21/05630/FUL with concerns regarding “the addition of a new dwelling to the site, and the consequent subdivision and erosion of the historic garden setting of a NDHA.” Application 21/05630/FUL was originally refused on grounds of, amongst other reasons, less than substantial harm to the historic villa and conservation area “by virtue of its mass, bulk, and design [Delegated Report 27/04/2022]”, which would fail to be outweighed by public benefit. The application was later dismissed at appeal on grounds that “the development would fail to preserve the character and appearance of the CA [Appeal Decision 04/10/2022].”
We note that design revisions have been made to the proposed 3-bed dwelling, including the revision of the previous asymmetric roof profile to a more traditional pitched roof, indicated to align with remnants of the historic roof line on the south elevation. This appears to have been slightly reduced in height in relation to the southern gable end (see proposed south and west elevations for reference). Areas of contemporary glazing have been revised to incorporate more traditionally-sympathetic fenestration “to match Chelsea House”. The overall internal floor space has been slightly reduced from approx. 86.1m2 to 78.4ms (based on measurements provided in the proposed floor plans).
However, we note the continued similarity in the proposed plan and mass of the building as a solid addition to the villa building, and reiterate our previous comments as follows:
“We therefore maintain significant concerns regarding the addition of a new dwelling to the site, and the consequent subdivision and erosion of the historic garden setting of a NDHA. The cramped scale and location of the new dwelling positioned tightly against the southern elevation of 120 Wells Road is contrary to the building’s local significance as a detached villa and the associated prominent, ‘standalone’ character of the dwelling within its own plot. This has unusually been retained where there has been a significant volume of later infill along the street, and therefore the residential intensification of this site would be of harm to the particular historic interest and form of the building.
“We note that the proposed site of development was the historic location of “a two storey extension to the SE corner”, traces of which are still clearly visible on the corner elevation. However, from the map evidence provided, the use of crosshatching typically indicates a glazed or glasshouse extension, and therefore a more ‘light touch’, visually transient addition to the building envelope. In contrast, the proposed development would visually read as a much heavier and more permanent addition, and extend the perceived solid envelope of the building.
“We acknowledge that the proposed dwelling is of low public visibility along the southern elevation, but we maintain that development of this grain sets an unwelcome precedent for development ‘cram’ on larger sites and does not sit well against an impressively scaled and detailed villa NDHA. The comparatively small scale of the new dwelling sits uncomfortably against the villa and serves to further highlight the new dwelling as an alien addition out of keeping with its setting.”
We maintain that the use of reconstituted Bath stone would be inappropriate, as this has a different colour and weather to natural Bath stone, and would result in a jarring and unsympathetic visual contrast. We maintain that a natural Bath stone would sit more comfortably within this context and would be more visually recessive as it weathers down to a more neutral colour and finish. We maintain that further details and specifications regarding the proposed materials are needed.
We maintain our original concerns regarding the proposed amenity of the new dwelling for future occupiers. The new dwelling would measure approx. 78.4m2 in total (internal floor space), indicated to be 3-bed with capacity for up to 6 residents total. This is a reduction from the previously proposed 86sqm floor space in refused application 21/05630/FUL. However, the minimum national space standard for a house of this scale (3-bed, 3 storeys) is 90sqm. Whilst the national space standard is not referenced within the local development plan and therefore is not a policy requirement, we emphasise that this remains a useful nationwide tool to assess what is considered to be adequate residential amenity for future occupiers. We therefore maintain ongoing concerns with the construction of an undersized new-build dwelling and inadequate provision of private, usable space for future residents contrary to Policy D6. We additionally highlight the poor provision of outdoor amenity space across the site. The north-west corner of the site appears to constitute the remaining green space, which is shown to be located within the proposed site plan of the new dwelling and will likely form a constrained garden space for the new residents, although this is not clearly specified. This would have a notable impact on the existing residents of 120 Wells Road whose access would be limited to the car park hardstanding.
Should the principle of a new dwelling on this site be considered acceptable, we maintain that additional landscaping should be required to ensure the provision of adequate external amenity for new residents, without compromising the surviving garden space accessible to existing residents.