21 Darlington Place, Bathwick, Bath
21 Darlington Place is a 1970s unlisted detached dwelling, situated within the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site. The site boundary to the east sits up against the edge of the Bath & Bristol Green Belt and the Cotswolds AONB. As existing, the property constitutes a 2 ½ storey dwelling set back on the east-west incline overlooking the road, with views out towards the city centre, with a two bay single storey garage at road level. The site looks directly onto the two storey Grade II early 19th century terrace at Sydney Buildings; the terrace in its entirety forms a long, serpentine curve along the eastern edge of the canal, running north to south, and as existing is a defining streetscape feature characteristic of the local area. The relationship between Sydney Buildings and the Grade II terrace further up at Darlington Place is outlined in the North Road and Cleveland Walk Character Appraisal: “Sydney Buildings and Darlington Place were placed to exploit the dramatic view across the meadows to the city and the east front of Bath Abbey in particular, which they continue to enjoy today.”
The existing house and garage were constructed in 1971; application 22/03592/CLEU was recently confirmed to be lawful, where it was indicated that the house had originally been built in breach of a planning permission secured for the residential development of the site. Prior to this, the site was occupied by the 19th century Bathwick Dairy, positioned up against the north-east corner of the plot. The existing tree coverage on the site has already been significantly thinned, and the dwelling is now clearly visible from the roadside.
The character further south along Sydney Buildings is primarily of a green, well-planted verge and tree line, through which the adjoining meadows can be glimpsed at certain points. 21 Darlington Place forms a key transition point between the end of Darlington Place, and the last feature of built development along the eastern edge of the street, which is otherwise given over to the green, undeveloped edge of Bathwick Meadows and positively contributes to the semi-rural character of the area.
Where the existing 1970s dwelling and garage are of no historic value, BPT does not oppose the principle of their demolition and replacement. We consider that this offers the possibility for a more sensitive and well-integrated building design that should seek to embody the key historic, architectural, and landscape characteristics and building lines, of the area, particularly where this site is of a prominent position and visibility in streetscape views.
The proposed introduction of coach house in place of the existing garage would increase its overall height, scale, and streetscape presence. The result would be the perceived urbanisation of the roadside edge and proliferation of hard landscaping and built development, and associated adverse impact on the character of this site and its contribution to the wider area. The increased height of the garage to a two storey structure, which would be far more domestic in its scale and architectural composition, would challenge the scale and form of Sydney Buildings. We maintain a strong preference for the use of a subtler approach, where a replacement garage could be incorporated with improved greening and planting to anchor the development within its landscape context and break up the building’s scale and massing.
We have strong concerns regarding the proposed build-up of the site and the resulting, perceived increase in the height, scale, massing, and overall bulk of the building. Whilst it is indicated that the proposed building would not exceed the roof ridge height of the existing building, the use of a flat-roofed form would result in a building which would read as a three storey structure, where the existing structure reads as a 1 ½ storey building where the upper floor is accommodated within a pitched roof.
The increased scale and massing of the building, coupled with its prominent position elevated over the street, would result in an overbearing and over-dominant addition at odds with the more modest two storey scale of Sydney Buildings. Where the site as existing marks a transition point with the green, undeveloped roadside treatment further south, the proposed development would result in the intensified, built presence on the site, rather than seeking to blend in with its landscaping and garden setting as the existing building has done previously.
Given the recognised semi-rural qualities of the area and the significance of established tree coverage within the streetscape, the use of timber cladding within this location is considered acceptable. Nonetheless, the proposed use of a black/charred timber has the potential to be visually dominant, and incongruous. We would therefore strongly recommend the use of a naturally weathering timber cladding where this would allow the building to fade to a more subdued colour and sit more cohesively within both its landscape and built context.
There is currently insufficient information regarding the degree of impact on landscape views. The development would be situated adjacent to Bathwick Meadows, a highly sensitive landscape feature that forms a critical aspect of Bath’s publicly accessible Skyline, and the Green Setting OUV of the World Heritage Site, but little assessment has been provided regarding potential visibility from this viewpoint or how this may be mitigated with further planting. Greater consideration is also required as to whether the development would be visible from the city centre, where Sydney Buildings is noted for its strong sightlines towards the east. A LVIA is strongly recommended for the benefit of an impact assessment on the character of the conservation area and World Heritage Site views.
As currently proposed, development would harm the setting and significance of a group of listed buildings, and would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. There is insufficient information relating to the degree of landscape impact, and associated impact to the OUV of the World Heritage Site.
The height scale and massing and appearance of the proposed development would be over dominant and detract from local townscape character and fail to reinforce local distinctiveness.
The application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6 D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.