Crossleaze Farm, Woolley Lane, Charlcombe, Bath
BPT recognises the need for sensitive energy efficiency retrofits and microrenewable installations in response to the Climate Emergency, and to meet B&NES targets of net zero by 2030 and broadly supports this proposal, subject to the submission of additional details.
Crossleaze Farm is a historic farm complex situated within the Green Belt, Cotswolds AONB, and the indicative landscape setting of the World Heritage Site. It is made up of an assemblage of Grade II listed buildings, including the mid/late 17th century Crossleaze Farmhouse and the early 19th century barn to the south of the site. A number of ancillary buildings on the site, whilst unlisted in their own right, appear to be attributable to the mid-late 19th century and as such are considered to be curtilage Grade II listed. The focus of this application is on the ancillary “garage/store” building in the south-east corner of the site. The structure appears to be located on the 19th century footprint of an earlier building but is stated by the applicant to have either been substantially remodelled or completely rebuilt (though this ought to be evidenced in support of the proposal). The building features a traditional-style external treatment in a mix of rubble stone and timber cladding with a clay pantile roof, in keeping with its historic agrarian context. The farm site is set back from Woolley Lane on a private track but due to the gentle south-north slope of the landscape the roof of multiple buildings including the Grade II farmhouse and barn, as well as the garage structure, are potentially visible in mid- to long-range landscape views.
Application 22/02458/LBA was previously permitted with a revised roof-mounted solar array of a reduced scale (8x panels). The application has been resubmitted, reverting back to the original 2022 proposals for 20x panels across the entirety of the south-facing roof slope, to which BPT maintains our previous comments as follows:
The proposed solar array could be visible as part of wider landscape views through the Green Belt and AONB, and would be a change in appearance to a traditional-style roof treatment. We would expect a planning application to recognise this and make an assessment of any (even if no) visual impact, given these landscape designations and planning policy considerations. Submitted drawings should have labelled elevations in order to orientate the proposal.
As such, precise material details should be submitted to ensure that visual impact is mitigated as far as practicable. In accordance with Policy SCR2, we strongly advise the use of non-reflective panels in a monochrome, matt black finish to minimise an incongruity of form and materials. We commend the opportunity to integrate the proposed panels into the southern roof slope to ensure a flush and recessive finish.
When assessing the balance of heritage impact (on the setting of the heritage assets) versus public benefit, we consider that this application offers benefit in the form of decarbonised energy generation and contributions towards the council’s sustainability objectives, to be greater than less than substantial harm. We do not consider that solar PV in this farmstead location would conflict with the purposes of the Green Belt or impact on its character and openness.
Where considering the impact on landscape character, the increase of solar provision across the roofscape may result in increased ability to generate renewable energy, and (in relation to on-site EV charging provision) reduced fuel usage, and reduced pollution, would result in an environmental benefit against a very marginal change in landscape character where the principle of PV solar on this roofscape has already been secured. This therefore marks a positive opportunity to maximise low carbon energy generation on the site which should be encouraged, where this meets appropriate standards of appearance and finish.
If the officers are minded to approve this application we encourage constructive dialogue with the applicant to bring forward increased energy efficiency of the property as a whole.