34 North Road, Bathwick, Bath
The proposed development is situated within the garden of 34 North Road, an unlisted post-1960s detached bungalow situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. Cleveland Walk features an eclectic housing mix, with Victorian detached villas to the south-east and a range of early to late 20th housing on the northern end. The area remains congruent in its verdant character and appearance, and the generous scale of housing set back from the road within private gardens. Development at Cleveland Walk progressed from the late 19th century, following on from earlier 19th century developments on Bathwick Hill and North Road seeking a rural retreat from the built-up urban core of Bath. 34 North Road forms the end of Cleveland Walk, facing onto the junction with North Road, and has a wedge-shaped rear garden adjacent to the Grade II early 19th century Bath Spa Hotel. Due to the north-south slope of the site, 34 North Road sits discreetly down from the road behind a hedge and timber fence boundary. The proposed site for development is at the southernmost extent of the garden, which has already been sub-divided from the plot by a hedgerow and was previously occupied by a garage.
BPT does not object to the design of the proposed dwelling, and we encourage the low-profile, recessed scale and layout of the dwelling which appropriately uses the north-south slope to further recess itself in southern views from 34 North Road. The use of natural materials such as Bath stone ashlar would positively incorporate elements of Bath’s local vernacular into the design whilst remaining distinctly contemporary, with the sedum roof providing a visually ‘softening’ effect within its backland garden setting.
We acknowledge the scale of the existing garden site, and its non-historic origin as part of the post-1960s domestic curtilage of 34 North Road. We commend the efforts made to create a subservient, low-profile dwelling concealed from the roadside, and consider that the proposed development would be acceptable due to negligible visual harm to the open character and appearance of North Road and Cleveland Walk, and the continued spacious readability of this area of the conservation area and World Heritage Site.
Despite the proposed dwelling’s orientation to sit outside of the RPA of the protected beech tree, we do have some concerns regarding potential future residential pressures on the tree due to overshadowing and leaf/branch debris in the garden. The tree is of notable public visibility from North Road and contributes to the well-planted rural character of the conservation area. We therefore feel that particular care is needed to ensure the ongoing protection of the tree from significant pruning or removal in future.
In principle, we welcome opportunities for the implementation of sustainable design, Passivehaus principles, and carbon emission offsets in new and existing development, where deemed contextually appropriate, to address the declared Climate Emergency. The construction of an ‘eco home’ offers a valuable opportunity to create a Bath-based model for sustainable new builds and carbon neutral living whilst remaining sensitive to their historic environment.
However, we strongly recommend that further details are sought to ensure the dwelling would actually meet Passivehaus standards. Passivehaus includes a combination of factors, including air tightness, quality of insulation and glazing, and appropriate solar gain and shading to maintain a consistent internal temperature and pressure with minimal energy consumption. Certain aspects of the scheme seem contradictory to the Passivehaus approach, such as the inclusion of natural ventilation whilst maintaining “very good airtightness” and the “elimination or mitigation of thermal bridges”. We therefore recommend further details of the scheme are submitted for consideration by the relevant officer to ensure the proposed passive house meets the appropriate standard.
We are keen to see an ‘eco home’ of exemplary design and performance through to delivery, and we urge officers to ensure Passivehaus principles of low-energy living are fully integrated into the proposal to the construction phase, rather than just as part of the application.