Crowe Hall, Widcombe Hill, Widcombe, Bath
The proposed site of tree works is the garden setting of Crowe Hall, a Grade II mid- to late 18th century detached house situated within the Widcombe character area of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. The garden is a Grade II designated Park & Garden, originally set out as an informal parkland before later, more formalised landscaping alterations through the 19th and 20th centuries. The site is indicated to have maintained a defined tree belt along the northern boundary, screening the garden from Widcombe Hill, by the late 19th century at the latest, which has been sustained. A further mix of loose tree planting is evident along the western boundary of the site, moving down into a concentrated area of denser planting towards the south, combined with garden features such as the Grotto. It characterises the well-treed appearance of Church Lane. The implementation of less formalised woodland-style planting is more indicative of Crowe Hall’s original parkland setting, whilst positively contributing to the green, semi-rural qualities of the Widcombe area characterised by a mix of dense tree planting and open fields.
There appears to be a precedent for the planting of significant yew species within this area from at least 1991, as made reference to in the Historic England listing 1000548, though this is not necessarily indicative that the yews identified form an original part of the historic planting plan: “Several roughly parallel paths form woodland walks along the hillside above the churchyard. The uppermost, overhung by old plantings of yew, leads to the late C18 coach house (listed grade II) c 90m to the south-east of the Hall [...].” Nonetheless, inclusion within the listing suggests that the yew specimens within this area may be of particular interest.
Proposed works would be for the felling of 6x yew trees within the immediate setting of the Grade II coach house. The structural report as submitted indicates that the trees’ close proximity and position at the top of the slope has resulted in cracking and wall movement, particularly across the rear wall of the coach house. Where it can be evidenced that the existing trees are directly resulting in an adverse impact on the condition, and therefore the special interest, of a listed building, their removal may be suitably justified through the demonstration of the mitigation of harm to historic fabric.
Given the significance of tree planting to the garden setting of Crowe Hall and its contribution to the wider green character and appearance of the Widcombe character area of the conservation area, we strongly encourage that any tree felling works should be accompanied by a proportional consideration of appropriate replanting where necessary, to ensure that this significant area of tree coverage is sustained and enhanced as part of Bath’s landscape setting, as well as reinforcing the existing ecological value of this area.