Ardenlee, Bathwick Hill
The site of the proposed development is situated adjacent to Ardenlee, a Grade II late Georgian villa within a highly sensitive region of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. Whilst not within the city centre, the evidential value of Bathwick Hill in illuminating its desired “non-urban” residential character, and its high density of Grade II and Grade II* buildings, renders this area highly sensitive to the pressures of increased residential demand in and around Bath.
BPT does not object to the proposed design of the dwelling proposed, and is instead pleased to see a building that remains subservient to its setting through the use of its low profile, and the retention and improvement of existing screening. The use of natural materials such as slate and natural stone will positively incorporate elements of Bath’s local vernacular into the design whilst remaining distinctly contemporary, and we encourage the minimal use of glazing that can be visually harmful, although the number of windows facing directly into the garden of Wayside is some cause for concern regarding resident privacy.
The Trust further commends the integration of suitably subtle energy-efficiency measures within the design such as the green roof and PV panels. The solar-shaded roof light adheres to Passivehaus principles in the provision of passive light and shade. We appreciate the use of sustainable materials such as wood fibre and mineral wool insulation in preference to other, less environmentally-friendly options.
The retention of the mature trees to the south of the proposed site, with some new planting to strengthen the density of coverage, is a particularly positive aspect of the scheme. The retention of distinctive green infrastructure will positively preserve Bathwick Hill’s verdant character, and ensure the minimal visual intrusion of the new building into the streetscape. It further ensures that the proposed building has a minimal impact on existing landscape views, particularly considering Bathwick Hill’s contribution to Bath’s historic skyline and the planned Georgian townscape.
In conclusion, we feel that the proposed design has suitably accounted for its potential visual impact on North Road and Bathwick Hill, and has demonstrated adequate understanding as to how contemporary architecture and sustainable design can be best implemented within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. Despite its minimal visibility, the application promises the use of quality materials that will subtly reflect historic equivalents and demonstrates consideration for the sustainable, future use of the property.
However, BPT is obliged to object to this application on the principle of the site and its current land use. We are generally opposed to the use of garden space attached to or surrounding a listed building for residential development due to the consequent loss of contextual setting that will harm the value of a listed building that is visibly designed to complement and cooperate with an established landscape setting. As emphasised in the North Road and Cleveland Walk Character Appraisal, the late Georgian development that followed the route of Bathwick Hill and North Road “marked the move from urban living in the closely packed terraces of the town to a semi-rural environment after 1830.” Therefore, a critical aspect of the Grade II and Grade II* buildings within this area is the carefully created relationship between the Italianate villa architecture and the accompanying large, sculpted gardens that encapsulated a rural atmosphere, despite their urban setting. It remains a visual indicator of Bath’s peripheral Georgian townscape, defined by its low-density amalgamation of architecture and nature into a complementary whole.
Therefore, Ardenlee’s retained green setting is significant in that it both enhances the value of a Grade II listed building through the provision of a contextual background and a designed, harmonious appearance, whilst simultaneously preserving and enhancing the wider conservation area through the retention of a traditional residential footprint favoured by Bath’s Georgian elite. Ardenlee’s integrity of setting has already been weakened by the construction of Wayside in 1970; therefore, we are opposed to the continued deterioration of Ardenlee’s historically-attached green space, a sentiment further exacerbated by the building’s scale and massing to which a larger garden space is visually and traditionally well-suited.
We further object to the general principle of ‘garden-grabbing’ regardless of the specific contextual issues explained above. We feel that this demonstrates an ignorance of the significance of setting to the value of individual heritage assets; the removal of setting results in the loss of valuable contextualisation, spaciousness, and green infrastructure, all of which contribute to the historic, evidential, architectural, and aesthetic merit of listed buildings. PPS6 emphasises the negative consequences of garden development such as the isolation of listed buildings from the wider landscape or townscape, the loss of setting, the loss of preserved historic atmosphere and views, and a conflict of architectural styles without space for mitigating buffer zones. Whilst PPS6 has been superseded by the NPPF, the Trust feels that this document remains valid in its concerns regarding the loss of garden space to provide housing. We would argue that justifications of housing demand and supply are insufficient for the permanent loss of a historic building’s setting.
Therefore, whilst we feel the proposed design is of a suitable quality and style, and appreciate its minimal visual impact within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site whilst borrowing aspects of the area’s vernacular tradition, we ultimately object to the loss and use of Ardenlee’s garden setting for residential development. We see this as a typical example of garden-grabbing that degrades the setting of a listed building and overlooks Bathwick Hill’s aesthetic, historic, evidential, and social character as a spacious and green replication of rural living for Bath’s Georgian elite. Therefore, this application is contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D6, D7, HE1, NE2, and NE2A of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. However, if the site is ultimately deemed appropriate for development, then we support the proposed design as the most appropriate and least harmful option available.