Depot Site, Station Road, Newbridge
The site of proposed development is situated along Station Road, within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The area is largely characterised by its Victorian and Edwardian residential terraces. The site originally formed part of the Midland Railway’s Mangotsfield and Bath Branch line from 1869-1987; the narrow, rectangular boundary of the plot is particularly significant in preserving a section of the area’s socio-industrial heritage. The dense foliage along the north and south boundaries is highly visible from Station Road, and is recognised to positively contribute to the character and ecological value of the area whilst the northern strip of mature trees follows the original line of the railway.
BPT recognises that the current plot creates a gap in the streetscape and is of a neutral significance within the conservation area. We would therefore welcome sensitive and sustainable development, and the creation of much-needed residential accommodation on this brownfield site.
We strongly support the inclusion of suitable percentages of affordable and accessible dwellings within this proposed development.
The inclusion of certain energy-efficient measures in line with Passivehaus principles such as passive stack ventilation and high performance insulating clay bricks is a positive response to the recent Climate Emergency. The inclusion of PV solar panels is suitable within this area due to their low visibility and minimal impact on historic fabrics or aesthetics.
However, some aspects of the proposed design are felt to be harmful to the character and appearance of this part of Bath:
The use of Bath stone is specified on only “the Station road elevation and adjacent portions of the north façade”. Other elevations will use alternative materials such as render and reconstituted/cast stone; this proposed use of mixed materials to the building’s exterior will visually contrast with its topographical context in which the prevailing material type is Bath stone ashlar. The use of reconstituted stone is not acceptable and the extensive use of render could have a sharp and bright appearance in this context. Therefore, the proposed material types would potentially detract from the character of the conservation area. BPT asserts that all elevations should be natural Bath stone ashlar or another material that doesn’t try to imitate Bath stone. Furthermore, the Design & Access Statement is ambiguous with regards to where rendered or reconstituted/cast stone would be used on the development site; we would need this to be clarified before the application progresses further.
Furthermore, The Trust feels that the use of a design mimicking traditional Georgian villas in massing and proportions is highly unsuitable within its contextual setting of Victorian and Edwardian residential terraces. The dismissal of the area’s established mid-19th to early 20th century architectural styles as visually excessive is an inadequate justification for the resulting inappropriate design. We do not consider that this development is in keeping with the local residential vernacular visible around Station Road. BPT strongly recommends that the design suitably reflects its setting to better preserve and enhance the character of this part of the conservation area, either respecting Victorian and Edwardian architectural characteristics, or even utilising a more contemporary design following local precedents such as the Grade II Herman Miller Factory.
We are additionally concerned with the loss of trees along the southern strip of the development plot as well as the significant thinning of the northern strip, a valuable section of growth that not only visually contributes to the area’s prominent green infrastructure, but follows the original historic route of the railway line. Little information is provided regarding potential replanting which would need to be remedied before we could consider the application fully, although we feel that the justification for limited future replanting due to the “poor quality” of the trees removed is thoroughly inadequate and in breach of Policy NE6 of the District-Wide Strategy and Policies Plan.
Finally, whilst the provision of concealed, on-site parking is generally positive, the low availability of parking spaces is cause for concern regarding future overspill onto residential roadsides which will have a negative visual and social impact on the conservation area. We would highly recommend that the potential for high resident parking demands be considered in more detail within this application.
Whilst the Trust acknowledges the potential of the site for development and encourages the implementation of energy-efficient buildings, we do not consider the design approach and appearance do enough to sustain and enhance the area’s historic significance, or positively contribute to the local context. Combined with the loss of green infrastructure, this could have an adverse impact on the conservation area. For these reasons, this application is contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Area) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan Policies B1, B4, BD1, CP6, D1-D5, D7, HE1, NE1, NE2, NE2A, NE6, and CP7, and should therefore be refused.