2 Rockhall Cottages, Rock Hall Lane, Combe Down, Bath
2 Rockhall Cottages forms one half of a pair of unlisted early to mid-19th century cottages, situated within the Combe Down character area of the World Heritage Site. It is located just outside of the Bath conservation area, but is surrounded by the conservation area boundary on three sides and is prominent in street views from Rock Hall Lane, which is located within the conservation area. As such, whilst not in the conservation area any proposals should be considered in direct relation to potential impact on the character and appearance of the area. 1-2 Rockhall Cottages are an attractive example of the typical semi-detached and terraced housing stock in Combe Down, largely associated with workers at the Combe Down Quarry and the historic working yard to the north of Rock Hall Lane, now the Museum of Bath Stone. The cottages remain well-set in generous front and back gardens and retain their shared homogeneity across the principal and rear elevations in Bath stone ashlar. As part of our original objection to application 19/00798/FUL, we summarised that “this group of cottages have local historic interest as early 1800’s worker’s cottages and are non-designated heritage assets. The integrity of their setting, and the prevailing pattern and grain of the local townscape is a consideration in the planning balance.”
There is an extant planning permission for a two storey rear extension (see 19/00797/FUL) which would be located entirely to the rear of the property and consequently would be of minimal public visibility from Rock Hall Lane. This remains a material planning consideration that should be included as part of the concluding planning balance.
We therefore oppose the proposed extension which would visually unbalance the shared form and design of the proposed cottages. From Rock Hall Lane, the extension would stick out from the side of the cottage as to read as an additional terraced dwelling, albeit recessed to the rear, and would significantly alter the historic appearance, plan form, and scale of the cottages.
The sideways expansion of the dwelling would further ‘build up’ its garden setting in streetscape views and built into the open gap that has been retained between 2 Rockhall Cottages and the adjoining terraced properties at 4-6 Rockhall Cottages, to the detriment of their retained historic relationship, pattern, and grain.
The use of render is also unacceptable as material treatment across significant or visually prominent elevations. In this context, it would not be a “subservient” addition and instead would sharply contrast with the natural stone palette of the cottages and the neighbouring, traditional dwellings, and would not preserve or enhance the established material characteristics or appearance of the conservation area.
Paragraph 203 of the NPPF states: “The effect of an application on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing applications that directly or indirectly affect non-designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset.” We maintain that this application would directly harm the semi-detached form of the cottages and disturb their architectural uniformity, regularity, and simplicity of form, and would result in the cramped build-up of their open garden setting. This would be clearly visible from the conservation area and would not preserve or enhance their contribution to the character or appearance of the conservation. Conversely, application 19/00797/FUL demonstrates that a similar extension can be achieved (albeit with one less bedroom) with significantly reduced visual harm.
This application would fail to enrich the local area and does not respond positively or respectfully to local distinctiveness.
The proposed scheme is contrary to Section 16 of the NPPF and policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, HE1, of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.