Avondale Garage, High Street, Batheaston, Bath

Demolition of existing buildings, retention of commercial office unit (use class E.g) attached to neighbouring dwelling and development of 4 dwellings (use class C3) with associated landscaping and engineering works.
Our Response

Avondale Garage is a late 20th century garage premises, now vacant, situated within the Batheaston village conservation area and the indicative landscape setting of the World Heritage Site. The character of the area is defined by its predominantly mid-late 18th and early 19th century streetscape along the historic extent of Batheaston’s high street.

The built form in this part of the conservation area is varied with a mix of building heights, roof profiles, building widths and use of materials and detailing. This has resulted in an eclectic and organic character that speaks to the narrative of growth and change in this area, as well as a less formalised and homogenous treatment across the streetscape.

The broader grain and pattern of the village is characterised by a central historic core of high-density built development along the roadside. To the north and south, further layers of development have accumulated, generally attributed to later phases of construction in the 20th century (eg. Victoria Gardens), although there are several examples of historic streets with a north-south emphasis such as Vale View Terrace. These ‘outer’ layers of development are of a looser density and are typically set back from streets and one another within private garden plots. The overall effect is of the break-up of built development with glimpses of private gardens and planting that then open up into wider landscape views of open countryside to the north and south.

Previous application 22/03145/FUL was submitted for the development of five dwellings on the site, which was subsequently withdrawn. BPT originally supported, and continues to support, the principle of development on this brownfield site where this offers a positive opportunity for the provision of housing for Batheaston residents within the village’s Housing Development Boundary, with good connections to Bath, and would contribute towards B&NES’ housing targets. However, we ultimately objected to the application on grounds of overdevelopment of the site and harm to the heritage assets including the Batheaston conservation area and the setting of multiple listed buildings.

We are therefore pleased to see that this revised application has gone some way in addressing our previous concerns as follows:

• The scheme has been reduced from a total of 5 dwellings to 4 dwellings which has helped to reduce the density of development on the site, in particular along the northern boundary where this intersects with Batheaston’s landscape setting. The placement of one dwelling of a reduced size feels more comfortable within this context.
• The reduced height and scale of Plot 4 by a storey, with the introduction of a pitched roof and central glazed section to further break up the perceived massing of the building. The reduced density of the northern half of the site would also result in the increased provision of private garden space associated with Plot 4, though we note that a significant proportion of this is dedicated to private off-street car parking. There continues to be a question regarding how the garden space in this location would intersect with the screening tree belt along the northern boundary, and how it could be ensured that this would be retained as a buffer between the development site and the open landscape setting of Bath to the north.
• Further details have been provided as part of the application as to how the existing building on the site would be retained and refurbished as a self-contained office with its own parking space.
• The central shared parking hard surfacing has been reduced to allow for increased greening and soft landscaping, and increased tree planting along the east and west boundaries.
• The proposed street-side terrace (see Plots 1-3) would be further set back from the edge of the road, allowing for the creation of front gardens and associated tree planting. This would result in the provision of improved green amenity space for the future occupiers of the site whilst activating and enhancing the development’s streetscape presence within the conservation area.
• The total biodiversity net gain of the scheme would be a 67.92% net gain in habitat units and a 100% net gain in hedgerow units, in comparison with the previous application’s proposals of 36.94% net gain in habitat units and a 51.61% net loss in hedgerow units.
• The Sustainable Construction Checklist now proposes the incorporation of further energy efficiency measures, such as the use of ASHPs to accompany the proposed roof-mounted PV solar arrays. Proposals would be compliant with the requirements of Policy SCR6.

We do maintain some of our previous concerns regarding the proposed design and quality of detailing across the street-facing terrace of Plots 1-3. The terrace remains a significant aspect of the development where this would connect the development with its historic streetscape setting, and there continue to be issues with how successfully Plots 1-3 would respond to and reinforce their historic context, and the character and setting of the conservation area.

The proposed dormer windows would be disproportionately larger than the windows at first and ground floor level, contrary to the designed classical order of proportion, and as such may appear overly dominant in the elevation hierarchy. We therefore maintain that the dormer window surround could be reduced in width and height to ensure a scale corresponding with the established proportions of the main body of the building.

It appears that the proposed articulation of the principal façade is intended to replicate similar buildings viewed within the immediate context of the development site, but the current impression is that the elevational treatment of each dwelling is unnecessarily compressed – could this be addressed by the spacing out of the upper floor windows? This would likely have additional benefits for the flexibility of the internal layout of each dwelling.

The absence of roof coping and chimney stacks between each dwelling would result in an unbroken, oversized roof profile without sufficient definition or delineation between each building.

We maintain that further details regarding window and door joinery finishes, material samples, and boundary treatments should be provided to ensure a quality finish in keeping with the material palette and appearance of the surrounding area.

Confirmation is required that the proposed use of “Bath stone-faced blocks” across the principal elevations would refer to natural ashlar stone, rather than reconstituted stone blocks which do not appropriately replicate the colour, finish, and wear of natural stone.

We recommend illustrative details are provided of the proposed sash windows and encourage the use of a more traditional construction where the sash frames are set back from the main elevation and the boxes are concealed within the masonry façade, where this would be more authentic to the applicant’s intention to replicate a Georgian-style building form.

Whilst we recognise that revisions to the scheme have resulted in increased garden provision on the site, we maintain that Plots 1-3 would continue to have a restricted garden offer due to the prioritisation of off-street parking spaces on the site. The character of the area, whilst of an increased density along the roadside, continues to make provision for generous garden plots – terraces to the north and south of the high street feature long strip gardens to the rear. We reiterate that the provision of 3-4 bed homes would be best suited to families, and as such there would be greater demand for appropriately scaled and defensible garden space which wouldn’t be sufficiently met.

The development site is located within the core of Batheaston village, with easy pedestrian access to the shops further east (0.2 miles), and several bus stops located within 30 metres of the garage’s forecourt. We therefore emphasise that there should be greater consideration of how sustainable transport and access could be prioritised as part of this development and car parking minimised to allow for greater provision of green infrastructure, in keeping with local policies ST1, D3, and D6.

Application Number: 23/02316/FUL
Application Date: 23/06/2023
Closing Date: 03/08/2023
Address: Avondale Garage, High Street, Batheaston, Bath
Our Submission Status: Comment