Fairfield Arms, 1 Fairfield Park Road, Fairfield Park

Erection of three dwellings and associated works following demolition of existing public house.
Our Response

Overview of the Site:

The Fairfield Arms is a non-designated heritage asset situated on a distinctive corner plot between Raglan Lane and Fairfield Park Road. A largely agricultural area up until the late 19th century, The Fairfield Arms was constructed in 1887-1898, contemporary to the artisan terraces along Raglan Lane that were erected around 1897. It appears likely that the public house was intentionally built to service the emergence of a new community centre outside of the city, and it retains a strong local significance both as a community asset and a defining architectural feature in the streetscape; it has been highlighted as a “localised landmark” within the Larkhall Character Area since 1998.

Whilst located just outside of the Bath conservation area boundary, the building remains a peripheral part of the Bath World Heritage site and contributes towards the city’s visual homogeneity through its vernacular usage of Bath stone ashlar and natural slate, whilst embodying a valuable element of Bath’s Victorian social heritage. The Fairfield Park and Larkhall area have since been recognised in Bath’s 2005 City-wide Character Appraisal as a primarily residential area of 18th-19th century development with a high concentration of postwar terraces.

It can be concluded that The Fairfield Arms is a valuable remnant of Fairfield Park’s late 19th century expansion, having survived the 20th century suburban redevelopment that replaced large areas of Victorian dwellings including Claremont Buildings, Hampton View, and Midsummer Road. It forms a “gateway” to the Fairfield Park area, and connects the remaining concentration of attractive Victorian and Edwardian terraces along Fairfield Road and Raglan Lane. Furthermore, it remains at the heart of the local community, and provides a much-needed public venue and attached green space for residents to enjoy and use as a multi-faceted social space. Therefore, its aesthetic, architectural, evidential, historic, and social contribution to the local area warrants especial consideration in any prospective developmental proposals; we expect planning applications to account for any potential impact on the character of the area, and to suitably mitigate harm to both the building and its contextual setting.

Setting and Heritage:

Consequently, BPT strongly objects to the proposed demolition of The Fairfield Arms. We feel that this constitutes the unnecessary loss of a non-designated heritage asset, and will result in direct harm to the extant historic interest of the character area. It remains a positive architectural asset positioned on a highly visible and verdant corner plot at the centre of Fairfield Park, and therefore enhances the street-scene as a focal landmark and popular public place. Demolition would constitute harm to “local character and distinctiveness”, and is therefore contrary to Policy D2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.

Furthermore, it retains evidential significance as part of Fairfield Park’s original, late 19th century development; it is contemporary to the terraces along Raglan Lane developed along the rural periphery of Bath, and therefore significantly embodies the initial core growth of the original Fairfield park community. Due to significant works of redevelopment from the postwar period onwards, The Fairfield Arms has gained rarity in its contribution to the surviving aesthetic and historic core of the area, and is consequently all the more valuable with regards to the understanding of the area’s Victorian suburban origins. Therefore, development will not enhance or better reveal the significance and/or setting of this non-designated heritage asset, and will instead remove a crucial aspect of Fairfield Park’s social and architectural history, thereby contravening Policy HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.

Community Asset:

Through consideration of the many objection comments submitted alongside this proposal, the Trust argues that The Fairfield Arms remains a valuable, multi-functional community asset as a public house as well as a live music venue, polling station, lending library, and an accessible green area within a suburban setting in which residents have helped grow trees. It forms one element of Fairfield Park’s community infrastructure alongside its own school, park, and allotment gardens that helps form an insular and independent community within Bath. The Fairfield Arms has a place in living local memory, and is a material embodiment of local history, culture, and experiences, the significance of which has not been recognised within this application. It remains a popular meeting place, and due to its prominent pedestrian location within the residential core of Fairfield Park it has potential to be used for a diverse range of community uses outside of its A4 classification, again a possibility that this application has ignored.

Considering The Fairfield Arms’ sensitive position at the heart of the local community, we are surprised that the applicant has not sought a pre-application consultation with B&NES officers to discern possible alternative options such as the conversion of the existing building to a C3 residential use. Whilst the D&A Statement asserts that “no evidence of interest was recorded during the marketing for other commercial/community uses”, there additionally appears to be no evidence of consultation with the local community regarding the potential future of the building. Based upon the huge response of objection comments from local residents, we would therefore request that the suitable documentation of public engagement be made available to substantiate this application’s claims that the building lacks adequate community value to justify its retention in accordance with section 4 of the NPPF.

Ultimately, in accordance with Policy LCRA1A of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, the development or change of use of a public house should “result in the provision of alternative facilities of equivalent or greater benefit to the local community.” Similarly, Policy LCR1 states that the loss of community facilities are only justified if other facilities of “equivalent community value” are provided, or if it can be demonstrated that there is an adequate provision of public local spaces within the area. Section 8 of the NPPF encourages development that “promotes social interaction” and provides necessary “social, recreational, and cultural facilities and services” to ensure the future sustainability and self-sufficiency of local communities and groups. We would argue that the proposed development does not contribute any benefit to the local community due to the unmitigated loss of a valued, central public space, and its replacement with private housing.


The application includes the following justifications for the demolition of the existing public house:

- Lack of economic viability of the existing building or business.
- Physical limitations of the existing property, and retrofitting costs.
- The presence of other public houses within a 1.5 mile radius.
- Low social value.

BPT does not feel that the lack of economic viability has been suitably evidenced within this application. Furthermore, the potential economic viability of the existing building as a residential dwelling has not been explored, and we would require that this is publicly documented before demolition can be considered seriously. We additionally require clarification on some of the details provided; in accordance with Policy LCR1A of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, it is required that a public house has been consistently marketed for a minimum of 6 months to demonstrate its lack of economic viability. Whilst the D&A Statement emphasises that the property has been advertised for seven months with “no acceptable offers”, the Viability Report produced in October stated that a tenant has been in residence for the last nine months. Furthermore, the public house is reported by Somerset Live (11/11/2019) to have reopened on the 13th November, and therefore cannot be concluded to be economically unsuccessful on these terms.

We further object to the argument that the existing property is unsuitable for its existing use, as we have been provided with no evidence to substantiate this claim. The floor plan illustrates a spacious three-storey interior that could be made to function more efficiently with some minor internal changes, an option that has not been demonstratively considered within the application. We are additionally unsure as to how the predicted retrofitting cost of £172,940 has been produced, and question the need for an extension “to create an adequate commercial kitchen” based upon The Fairfield Arms’ previous positive reputation for serving food.

We feel that the justification of other public houses within a 1.5 mile radius is unsatisfactory, and an unsuitable mitigation for the loss of a public house within a thriving residential area in which The Fairfield Arms is easily accessible by walking and cycling. The suggestion of alternative public houses overlooks the distinct social character of The Fairfield Arms, and the particular communal group that it has helped formulate. The additional assumption that this public house is of low social value overlooks its significance as a community asset evidenced by the huge public outcry in response to its proposed demolition, and conflicts with section 6 and 8 of the NPPF in which public houses are noted as positive shared spaces and facilities within healthy communities, and a strong contributor to sustainable local economies.

Furthermore, it has been reported by Somerset Live (05/11/2019) that demolition is a “back-up plan”; we feel this argument is wholly inadequate and unconsidered. We question why alternative options have not at least been considered within the D&A Statement such as the retrofit of the existing property for C3 residential use whilst maintaining the aesthetic, architectural, historic, and evidential integrity of the area. The floor plans illustrate the building’s generous internal capacity that could function as a family property or several subdivided apartments, although we would caution that any potential future use should suitably reflect and complement the primary social character of the area in accordance with Policies D1, D2, D6, H2, and H3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.

New Dwellings:

If the loss of the community asset is accepted, it would be preferable to retain and convert the existing building and develop the site around it rather than demolish the building. This application does not consider the embedded carbon value of the existing property, and the consequent embedded carbon cost of the new-builds, nor the resulting generation of landfill waste and air pollution. Therefore, in the interests of a truly energy-efficient dwelling, the Trust would like to see designs that consider the positive retrofit and redevelopment of the existing property to minimise the damaging consequences of demolition in accordance with sections 2 and 14 of the NPPF, and Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan Policies CP1, CP2, CP3, CP6, and H3.

With regards to the proposed design of the three new terraced dwellings, we do not object to their design or use of materials. They are arguably in-keeping with existing Edwardian equivalents along Fairfield Park Road, and therefore demonstrate an aesthetic and architectural continuity with the history of the character area. If this site is found to be appropriate for redevelopment, then the Trust feels that this design would not be of significant visual harm, and would preserve the area’s 19th-20th century architectural appearance.

However, we would argue that the construction of three dwellings on this site constitutes an example of unwelcome overdevelopment. We feel that the awkward size and shape of the existing plot of land means that the intended positioning of the new dwellings feels cramped, leaving very little open space for use as a garden, and no parking. Due to their large footprints, both the front and rear elevations sit too close to the road and pedestrian thoroughfare, and will visually ‘close up’ this landmark site of current aesthetic interest and its adjoining roads.

We note that in accordance with Schedule 2 of the Parking Standards outlined as part of Policy ST7 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, all C3 residences within the Bath Outer Zone must provide a minimum of 2 parking spaces per two and three bed dwelling, a criterion that this application does not fulfil. Consequently, this development cannot demonstratively assure that there will not be an “increase in on street parking in the vicinity of the site which would affect highway safety and/or residential amenity”. Previous issues identified within the Larkhall Character area include “the growth in volume of through traffic and therefore the need to re-establish the essentially residential character of the area by reducing the impact of vehicular traffic on the environmental quality of the area”; the lack of parking will directly exacerbate increased traffic and parking pressures on the surrounding residential area, as prospective residents cannot be prevented from driving or owning vehicles. Therefore, this application is not only contrary to Policy ST7, but Policies D1, D2, D4, D6, and D7 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan through this potential degradation of the safety, amenity, and quality of life of the current residents of the Fairfield Park area.

The Trust would also question the application’s claim regarding the energy efficiency and sustainability of the development. Whilst the inclusion of micro-renewables such as PV panels within the design is welcome in light of the recent Climate Emergency, despite not being shown in the proposed elevations, the claimed energy efficiency of the proposed dwellings does not account for the energy used in demolition, reconstruction, or the production of new materials that will be used.


BPT strongly objects to the proposed demolition of the Fairfield Arms. There is little evidence of the public house’s economic failing, and no adequate justification for the demolition of a highly visible non-designated heritage asset that remains an evidentially valuable and rare survivor of the area’s Victorian heritage. We view the loss of a historic building and a community asset to be of greater harm than benefit to the area, and the building of three terraced dwellings would not be of equivalent benefit to the local community due to the irreparable loss of a public meeting space and community venue. Whilst we do not object to the proposed design of the new dwellings, we feel that this site is unsuitable for the scale and massing of the proposed development, and will result in an unacceptable worsening of traffic and parking conditions to the detriment of local character. The potential for the existing building to be converted to C3 usage needs to be adequately explored and documented before we can even begin to consider demolition as a viable option, and we strongly recommend that consultation with B&NES officers and local residents is conducted before this application is allowed to progress further. This application is therefore contrary to section 2, 6, 8, 12, 14, and 16 of the NPPF, and Policies CP6, D1, D2, D4, D6, D7, HE1, H3 LCR1, and LCR1A of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused.

Application Number: 19/04730/FUL
Application Date: 31/10/2019
Closing Date: 21/11/2019
Address: Fairfield Arms, 1 Fairfield Park Road, Fairfield Park
Our Submission Status: Object