Charmydown Farm House, Charmydown Lane, Swainswick, Bath
Charmydown Farmhouse is a Grade II late 17th detached farmhouse with later 18th & 19th century alterations. The farmhouse forms the central component of the wider Charmydown farm complex, including Charmydown Barn and Charmydown Lodge, formerly a pair of worker’s cottages, which are included within the Grade II curtilage of the farmhouse. The farm site is located within the Green Belt and Cotswolds AONB, as well as the indicative extent of the World Heritage Site setting and the indicative landscape setting of the Upper Swainswick conservation area. The original farmhouse is indicated to have been initially constructed around 1667, with a farm by the name of ‘Nicholas Farm’ in the area by 1742.
The proposed location of the ground-mounted solar array would be situated on an area of agricultural grassland to the west of the farmhouse, set back from the grounds of the farmhouse by the westerly driveway and area of parking hardstanding, as well as an area of formal landscaped garden. The panels would be situated approximately 65m away from the listed farmhouse.
In response to the ongoing Climate Emergency, BPT is supportive in principle of the opportunity for the provision of renewable energy where this can be sensitively integrated within the historic environment and Bath’s green landscape setting, or where resulting change to appearance or character can be appropriately mitigated or justified.
The proposed solar array would be set away from the immediate setting of the listed farmhouse and outside of the demarcated site boundary, as illustrated through historic map progressions. The proposed panels would be set at a low height and angle and as such would be a recessive and discreet addition as perceived within the setting of the farmhouse, and would be appropriately screened along the eastern edge of the array by the existing 2.2m beech hedge. Development would therefore result in the lower end of less than substantial harm, outweighed by the public benefits of on-site generation of ‘green’ energy, improved sustainability, and potentially reduced energy costs for residents, particularly prudent in light of the cost of living crisis. We further note cited heritage gains by the applicant, including the proposed removal of oil-fired boilers and associated infrastructure from the farmhouse basement (see D&A Statement).
The farmhouse site as a cumulative whole remains clearly visible in long-range landscape views from Little Solsbury Hill, over the valley of Chilcombe Bottom (see views E & F, D&A Statement). Whilst the addition of a solar array on this site may be clearly visible in long-range views, we consider that the proposed planting plan of a southerly hedge as well as accompanying tree cover would suitably screen the panels from view, and subsequently mitigate any potential impact on long-range landscape views and character.
However, we maintain that the success of this measure would be dependent on ensuring that the proposed planting is appropriately undertaken and managed to ensure it thrives. Where possible, we recommend that any granting of planning permission is accompanied by appropriate monitoring works by the local planning authority to ensure that planting works are undertaken and maintained.
We also encourage the LPA and the applicant to negotiate and agree an approach to whole home decarbonisation and measures to reduce energy use and waste, including insulation and draught proofing ahead of green energy generation.