Batheaston Methodist Church, Northend, Batheaston
Batheaston Methodist Church is a late Victorian chapel situated within the Batheaston conservation area. Whilst not listed, it is recognised as a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA) that positively contributes to the distinctive and special character of the conservation area.
In principle, the Trust does not object to the proposed change of use of historic buildings, so long as it is clearly evidenced that its original or existing use is no longer sustainable to the continued function and associated maintenance of the building. Batheaston Methodist has previously served a range of purposes as a school and youth club; therefore, we do not oppose a change to residential use, and instead encourage the building’s sensitive retrofit to allow for its sustained future use and material conservation.
We additionally do not object to the proposed demolition of the 1960s rear extension and freestanding playgroup structure; both structures are of a neutral value at best, and there removal does not constitute a loss of historic fabric. We instead welcome the opportunity for a more positive, beneficial use of the space that will better contribute to the Batheaston conservation area and the setting of a NDHA.
With regards to the proposed extension, the Trust feels that it is appropriately subservient to the main chapel building. However, since it is visible from Northend, we emphasise the need for high-quality appearance and materials to mitigate any visual harm to the conservation area. Ultimately, the use of vernacular materials such as rubble walls enables a harmonious aesthetic whilst remaining distinctly contemporary. We additionally appreciate the low public visibility of the glazed rear extension.
Nonetheless, we are somewhat disappointed with the lack of energy-efficiency measures or micro-renewables included within the design. The addition of a markedly contemporary extension offers the opportunity for the implementation of features such as non-reflective PV panels on a less historically or aesthetically sensitive area of the site, although any potential designs ought to adhere to Policy SCR2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. Ultimately, considering the current Climate Emergency, the retrofit of Batheaston Methodist Church offers the possibility for the development of a low-carbon or carbon-neutral family home whilst maintaining the positive vernacular and verdant character of the conservation area.