Buildings at End of Walnut Drive, Walnut Drive, Oldfield Park, Bath
The proposed site of development is the building at the end of Walnut Drive, situated within the Oldfield Park character area and the immediate indicative extent of the Bath Conservation Area, the boundary of which cuts off along the northern edge of Walnut Drive. The proposed site of landscaping works would therefore be located within the boundary of the conservation area and as such remains a valid consideration in the assessment of this application. The site is located within the World Heritage Site. The existing building is identified as a late 19th/early 20th century coach house used in association with St George’s Lodge, formerly a detached villa dwelling which was either substantially extended or rebuilt in the early 20th century and then later demolished to make way for the existing dwellings on the site, overlooking Oldfield Road to the north. The coach house forms the end point of a narrow rear lane which already incorporates a modest two storey residential terrace in reconstituted stone with a hipped roof, whilst also retaining an aspect of backland character where the lane backs onto the rear gardens of development along Oldfield Road. The coach house as existing, whilst clearly dilapidated, is an unusual example of red brick in Bath, and is modest in scale and profile at 1 ½ storeys with an extended pitched-roof dormer associated with its original coach house function. It has been substantially extended to the east and west at a later date with single storey flat roof infills. The site itself is tightly constrained and closely abuts onto the rear gardens of 35-36 Maple Gardens.
The principle of the refurbishment and partial reconstruction of the building to create a new dwelling has already been established, through extant planning permission 20/02841/FUL. Earlier application 17/00989/FUL originally secured permission for the residential redevelopment of the site.
BPT is supportive in principle of the redevelopment of a brownfield site within Bath to provide much-needed local housing. The site has already been developed and is situated within an area of mixed mid- to high density housing, with which the development of this site would be in keeping. The existing building is indicated to already be in a poor condition and structurally unsound and requires intervention to bring the site back into use.
Opportunities for the creation of an associated garden for use by future occupiers and associated landscape enhancement works, incorporating biodiversity improvements, are welcomed.
We do have some questions about the design approach as currently proposed, and the apparent lack of reference to local character or the built form of the surrounding area. The proposed dwelling would utilise a two storey flat-roofed form which would appear to be of a greater height, scale, and massing than surrounding development, where perceived heights have been reduced through the use of hipped and pitched roofs. Development would result in the increased build-up and prominence of what is currently a visually subservient building, in keeping with its ancillary use as a coach house. The elevational treatment would feature a varied mix of materials, including seamed metal cladding which is typically used at roof level within the conservation area.
From the proposed elevations as submitted, it is difficult to conceptualise how the new dwelling would be integrated into its streetscape context, and recommend this may be addressed through the provision of relevant contextual elevations and perspectives.
There is a positive opportunity for the development of something contemporary and ‘of its time’, but it is regrettable that the design as proposed does not reference or reinforce its local built context or the character and appearance of the conservation area. A stronger design reference or evidence of a design journey is recommended to better situate development within its surroundings, as well as the historic qualities of the site.
Despite the cited focus on sustainable construction and performance, there is little consideration as part of the application to the carbon produced through use of new materials. In response to the Climate Emergency, BPT emphasises the importance of retaining and reusing existing building stock, wherever possible, to reduce the waste generated through development both in the creation and use of new materials, and the disposal of existing materials and their embodied carbon. The extant planning permission for the site incorporates the partial refurbishment of the existing building. We therefore encourage further exploration of the potential reuse of the existing coach house and how this could be refitted and upgraded to meet the highest possible standards of energy efficiency.