All Saints Church, Church Road, Upper Weston, Bath

Erection of single storey extension to church with associated landscaping works.
Our Response

BPT were pleased to be invited to comment on the developing proposals at pre-application stage. This formal response to the proposals in the planning application reflects much of the content of of earlier correspondence with the applicant provided in December 2018.

All Saints Weston is a grade II listed church built by John Pinch, an architect responsible for many of Baths fine Georgian buildings. The architectural style, aesthetic and communal value contribute to the significance of the building which, along with the verdant, picturesque churchyard setting and burials of notable local figures has a direct relationship with the Outstanding Universal Value of the City of Bath World Heritage Site. The church and its churchyard setting and trees are an important positive features in the conservation area.

We support the general ambition to keep this special church in good working order and to future proof it by making the internal spaces, access and circulation as effective as possible for modern day communities. We encourage a holistic approach to the whole site and its conservation. This ought to include a conservation management plan for the cemetery and its monuments, and the recognition of any urgent works and conservation to monuments alongside any investment in works to the church and new buildings.

We note that later alterations and extensions to the church reflect and harmonise with the historic architectural style of the building, therefore any contemporary approach to extending the building would be visually different.

The proposed works, the new extension and associated demolition, along with the deconstruction and relocation of a grade II* listed tomb, are quite substantial and harmful to the special interest of the building. We are not convinced that any conservation benefits are brought about by the project to outweigh this harm. We remain concerned about the planning balance in relation to this harm versus the amount of public benefits, as required by the National Planning Policy Framework.

Church Extension:

Traditional churches are universally laid out in a cruciform plan, with the eastern sanctuary representing the furthest extent of the ‘cross’. While the 1906 vestry extension slightly disrupted this structure it was ‘tucked behind’ one arm of the cruciform plan. By contrast this large extension completely disrupts the plan and by wrapping around it – rather than extending as a linked but essentially separate entity (in the form of medieval chapter houses in cathedrals) it is a significant disruptor to the traditional modelling of an ancient church. We are concerned that the appearance of the extension, by virtue of the materials and size would be over-dominant in the churchyard setting and relative to the church itself.

The siting of the extension appears to impact upon the location of historic trees that contribute the character and setting of the church. The contribution of these trees to the historic significance of the site is high for their evidential, historic, aesthetic and communal value over a long period of time. One of our primary concerns regarding the new extension is the potential loss of the large cedar or yew. We are not completely clear how the proposed development would harm trees that look to be part of a very old group that are a special historic feature of the churchyard and the conservation area.

The loss of these trees would have a harmful impact on the setting of the listed church and be detrimental to the landscape character and views of the church within the conservation area. We do not consider that the removal of such important and historic trees would be justified by the development proposed and would advise consultation with the B&NES tree officer.

We have already indicated that we have concerns regarding the design and materiality of the extension. While we recognise that in response to our earlier comments more glass has been added, including the suggested half-glazed link between the 19th century church and the 21st century addition. Even more glazing may help reflect the surroundings and lighten the appearance of the extension, as would the use of a lighter natural material or finer stonework rather than large and visually heavy ashlar blocks and inappropriate coursed stone.

The design of the new extension should attempt to strengthen the connection between the church and its setting. In some ways the earlier timber pavilion style approach shown in the D&A statement allows for the historic church to maintain its prominence, while creating an extension ‘of its time’ that connects more naturally with the churchyard setting. We regret that this design approach was not developed further.

We appreciate that in terms of functionality and use the proposed design and form of the extension are the most expedient, however this new building is an important phase in the history of the church and it is crucial to ensure this substantial intervention to the church and its setting is of sufficiently high aesthetic and artistic quality to enhance the building and its surroundings.

We do not consider the proposed design, which appears utilitarian, to be of the quality deserved. The extension appears too large and heavy. The pitched roof would be visually intrusive into views of the church, and would obscure the tracery and architectural detailing of two windows. The glazing and roof form proposed should relate better to the rhythm of the existing fenestration.

The current needs of the 2019 church community are a valid consideration with the planning judgement, but so is the fact that the communal needs will continue to evolve and the building will remain an important part of the local community and its social history; this phase of works must deliver a meaningful, relevant and lasting architectural legacy as well as looking to do the least harm to the past layers that tell the overall story of the church.

We note the suggestion by Historic England that the interior works should precede refining the extension design so that the impact of the new flexibility can be assessed against the statement of need for the new building.


We regret the need to move the grade II* listed tomb of Dr Oliver. The overall scheme of works is not satisfactory enough to justify or accept this degree of harm. Again we encourage a scheme of conservation and repair works that is necessary for the churchyard and its monuments along with any new building work.

We have concerns about the appearance of the pathways. While recognising that the pathways need to provide level access for everybody, the location, hard landcaping material (pennant stone) and size of the pathways is overbearing in relation to the setting of the church. They should be smaller if possible, less linear and more recessive. There is no reason why accessible paths cannot wind through the churchyard as do existing paths, and this may also assist with gradient.

Internal Works:

We note that the internal works are out with the scope of the planning application however we would like to make our comments known. We have no concerns regarding the removal of the nave pews as we accept that they no longer serve the communal needs of the church. We would recommend retention of a few in perhaps the north crossing or the chancel, in order that some of the 19th century fabric and appearance of the church is retained for future generations to understand and appreciate.

We are very concerned regarding the total removal of the pulpit. This is an authentic part of the history and evolution of the church and whilst we accept that it may not be in a convenient location at the moment, we suggest that it remains within the church so that future generations can appreciate the 1890’s layer of church history.

Any works to create internal glazed screens should be light touch and reversible.

Any works to the floor, removal and the insertion of a new one with underfloor heating should be supported by an appropriate impact assessment regarding archaeology and historic fabric. We have opposed immersion fonts in other historic settings and would do so here. It is important to ensure that any memorial stones or ledgers moved are relocated elsewhere within the church and that all archaeology is recorded and conserved. Where it is proposed to remove historic wall plaques as a result of works to the interior, it is essential that these are recorded in their positions and then relocated elsewhere in the church so they remain a legible part of the church fabric.


Given that the proposed scheme will cause substantial harm that is not shown to be outweighed by benefit BPT is unable to support this application in its current form. We are open to discussing alternative approaches and resolving the issues with the applicant. This application fails to comply with the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, NPPF paragraphs 193, 195, 175, 200, Placemaking Plan Policies D1, D2, D5, and Core Strategy Policies CP6, B1, B4, HE1 and should therefore be refused.

Application Number: 19/03731/FUL
Application Date: 20/08/2019
Closing Date: 26/09/2019
Address: All Saints Church, Church Road, Upper Weston, Bath
Our Submission Status: Object