Car Park At Rear Of 5 And 6 Charlotte Street, City Centre

Installation of eight charging bays with photovoltaic canopies & associated green glass reinforced plastic substation.
Our Response

This proposal is situated within the Charlotte Street Car Park, within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. It concerns eight parking spaces towards the centre of the car park to mitigate the immediate visual impact of the proposed development.

In principle, BPT is supportive of appropriate retrofitting and sustainability measures that do not have a harmful impact on historic buildings, places, or landscapes. With regards to the current Climate Emergency, we acknowledge the necessity of adapting Bath’s environment, both contemporary and historic, to reduce our overall carbon emissions and lessen our climate impact. The Trust is supportive of the generation and use of green energy as a more sustainable source of power. We therefore support the principle of PV panels that adhere to Policy SCR3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan; however, we maintain that the suitability of PV panels requires case-by-case assessment to best determine the sensitivity of an area or building, and how successfully the aesthetic harm of panel installation is mitigated by its benefit.

Therefore, with regards to the Charlotte Street Car Park application, we acknowledge that the site is suitably screened, and the installation of solar canopies will have minimal aesthetic impact on the Bath conservation area whilst generating electricity that can then be used to charge eight parking bays. We additionally appreciate the need for parking canopies given the recent trend of longer, hotter summers that will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

However, whilst we support the principle of this application, we feel that the design could better contribute to or enhance the Bath conservation area. Instead, this application makes no reference to how the design has been selected to conserve or enhance the setting, does not indicate any design journey to come up with the selected option and therefore misses the opportunity to utilise a high quality, contemporary design that is of aesthetic merit whilst providing the same functional benefits as outlined in the existing application.

The Trust appreciates that given the growing popularity of solar canopies in other historic cities such as Cambridge and Exeter, this application will set a precedent for how Bath’s car parks and other public spaces are adapted for best solar gain. Therefore, we would advise that further consideration is made as to what design will be most suitable, most replicable, and most energy efficient, to establish a uniform city-wide pattern and avoid an assemblage of discordant styles that will instead be of aesthetic detriment to the area. We would additionally appreciate further elaboration, on energy efficiency grounds, as to why a duo-pitch model of canopy has been selected rather than two mono-pitches facing south.

We also consider that incorporating the switch room and substation so that the combined parking and structures are covered by canopies would be a neater design with, for example, a linear row of canopies and spaces running north to south in the area of the proposed substation. Furthermore, we feel there are additional and immediate opportunities existing within Charlotte Street Car Park for more subtle, negligible retrofits that do not appear to have been pursued. For instance, the south-facing public toilets would be suitable for the mounting of PV panels that could potentially help to power the adjacent three charging bays already present within the car park.

Therefore, whilst BPT is supportive in principle to the installation of PV panels in less historically or aesthetically-sensitive regions of the Bath conservation area or World Heritage site, we would argue that this application has missed an opportunity to amalgamate function with the aesthetic benefits of quality, contributory design that would establish a stylistic precedent for the city. Therefore, we would ask that the applicant reconsiders their submitted design with reference to Policies B1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, D4, D10, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.

Application Number: 19/04910/FUL
Application Date: 12/11/2019
Closing Date: 19/12/2019
Address: Car Park At Rear Of 5 And 6 Charlotte Street, City Centre
Our Submission Status: Comment