3 Hicks Field, Lower Swainswick, Bath
3 Hicks Field is a contemporary dwelling which forms part of the 6-house development permitted in 2015, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It overlooks the Green Belt boundary immediately along the southern line of the site. The development is of a lower density but with dwellings of a larger footprint than the dwellings along the roadside. The shared access road sits to the north of Hicks Field, with a lower southern access route to the sports field on the riverside. A public footpath cuts through the sports field to the south of the development and under the A4 bypass onto London Road. The site borders the rural periphery of Bath; the site sits at the bottom of a sharp north-south slope down from London Road with views out to the south towards Bathampton Down and the rear of Warminster Road across the Green Belt. This green space is particularly significant as a landscape ‘gap’ between Bath and its rural environs to the south and east which has gradually been encroached upon by further residential development. The Bath City-Wide Character Appraisal (2005) notes the south-west area of Bath as being “rural with an open character”; this is mixed with significant spots of dense tree cover such as along the River Avon and the south-eastern side of the A4 to retain the green, verdant character of the area.
We therefore have some concerns regarding the proposed scale of pruning works, and an absence of information as to how this would impact landscape views. We maintain that appropriate tree cover is required to ensure the development is well-screened in wider landscape views to sustain the rural character and visual openness of the Green Belt. However, there is an inadequate provision of information to acceptably detail any resulting visual impact in this sensitive location. The application proposes the pruning of two sycamores by 10m in height, and three willows by 9m in height, but it is unclear as to the height and scale of these trees as existing and what height they would be following works and whether appropriate canopy cover would be retained along the southern boundary. There would be additional works to reduce the trees in width, which may have consequences as to the perceived thinning of the tree belt and increased visibility of the housing development in wider views.
Whilst we do not oppose the principle of pruning, we do have concerns with the considerable scale of the proposed tree works with no relation as to how this would impact wider views across and into the World Heritage Site and the openness of the Green Belt. We therefore strongly recommend that further details as to the scale and appearance of the existing trees are provided to give some indication as to the density of the existing tree belt.