Chelscombe Farm, Fonthill Road, Lansdown
The proposed site of development is Chelscombe Farm, a mixed group of both late 18th/early 19th and late 20th century defunct agricultural outbuildings within the curtilage setting of Chelscombe Farmhouse, a Grade II 17th century residential farmhouse with some 19th century alterations, particularly to the primary southern elevation. This agricultural complex is situated within the Bath & Bristol Green Belt, the Cotswolds AONB, the indicative landscape setting of the Bath conservation area, and the Bath World Heritage site. The building group is situated to the south of the Grade I Beckford’s Tower, and the roof of the farmhouse can clearly be distinguished in views from the Grade II Lansdown Cemetery Cemetery. The farm is therefore located within a sensitive region of Bath’s distinctive rural, hilly landscape overlooking Weston, and any alterations or developments should be proportional to the farm’s agricultural appearance, grouping, and scale.
In principle, BPT is supportive of the retrofit and redevelopment of the farm complex, although we maintain reservations regarding the selection of materials for the proposed outbuilding roofs, the type of windows to replace the existing farmhouse windows, and the potential use of the site for short-term holiday lets.
The Trust supports the sensitive and sustainable reuse of the historic barn and outbuilding to ensure the conservation and preservation of a contextual cluster of heritage assets in perpetuity. We feel that the demolition of the 1970s Outbuildings 02 and 03 (as specified in the D&A Statement) will beneficially expose the southern elevation of Outbuilding 01 and the gable end of the two-storey barn and enhance their visual connection to one another and the farmhouse.
We are largely supportive of the selection of complementary, traditional materials for the proposed outbuildings, such as coursed rubble Bath stone “to match other existing buildings” (Proposed Elevations Outbuildings). We acknowledge that the selection of corten steel for the roofs is suitable due to the previous use of rusted corrugated steel, and the functional, agricultural appearance of the outbuildings on-site.
However, we have some reservations regarding the variation of colour in which corten steel is available as shown in the D&A statement. We would therefore strongly recommend that a more muted shade of corten steel is selected such as brown, to better complement the natural colour palette of the site. The use of a bright red or orange corten steel would be more visually intrusive within landscape views and clash with the pantile roof of the farmhouse, challenging the aesthetic dominance of the Grade II building within the site. We would further advise that a sample of the corten steel to be used is submitted to the LPA for assessment as part of the application, or attached as a Condition. We would additionally recommend that the use of reclaimed clay pantiles is considered to better complement the farmhouse’s vernacular roof profile, and the locally distinctive use of materials within the rural view of the farm complex.
Similarly, with regard to the replacement of the farmhouse windows with slimline equivalents, we would strongly recommend that comprehensive joinery details are submitted to the LPA to ensure that there will be no visual detriment to the primary façade of a Grade II listed building.
Finally, the Trust maintains concerns as to the proposed future use of the site. Considering the proposed scale of residential accommodation, it seems likely that the outhouses may function as short-term holiday lets, or separate dwelling, with a resulting intensification of the use of surrounding rural lanes and roads, and a noted suburbanisation of the site’s function and appearance (increased noise, light spill) which could have an impact on the openness and rural character of the Green Belt and AONB. We would therefore welcome options to reduce negative changes in character and atmosphere on-site and within Chelscombe Farm’s landscape context within this application, such as potentially limiting the annual number of lets or incorporating ‘rest’ periods between lets.