Hazelwood House, Warminster Road, Bathwick, Bath
Hazelwood House is an unlisted late 19th century Victorian detached villa, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. From 1880, it was recorded to be the residence of Isaac Pitman up until 1885, the inventor of Pitman shorthand and the founder (as part of Isaac Pitman and Sons) of the original Pitman Press works on Lower Bristol Road which later became the Bath Press. Hazelwood House originally formed an expansive villa residence set back in generous garden grounds along Bath’s historic rural periphery which has since become more extensively developed through the 20th century. The villa has since been subdivided into three dwellings but retains its visibility as a sprawling single dwelling in streetscape views, set pack from the pavement with a unified boundary treatment in Bath stone ashlar with hedge planting. The focus of this application is on the coach house in the eastern corner of the site, with a gable-ended overlook on Warminster Road. This building is more modest in scale, form, and materiality, built in less formal coursed Bath stone with a pitched roof profile although with a somewhat decorative coping treatment on the southern gable end. The coach house currently reads as an ancillary, less ‘active’ building as part of the wider villa site, and consequently retains part of its interconnected historic and functional relationship with Hazelwood and positively contributes to the character of the conservation area. Hazelwood is noted as an unlisted building of merit in the Bathwick Conservation Area Character Appraisal, and is therefore considered to be a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA).
BPT has strong concerns regarding the proposed material alterations to the coach house and the resulting harm to the scale, form, and character of the coach house, and the wider setting of the NDHA. The proposed dormers on the western roof slope would significantly alter the roof profile and recessive scale of the coach house and read as overtly domestic, in contrast with its ancillary historic relationship to Hazelwood. In particular, the southernmost dormer would cut through the roof eaves and down into the proposed ground floor extensions, and would consequently be excessive in scale and volume. The scale of development would not preserve or enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area. The creation of a significant panel of glazing would be highly visible and dominant in streetscape views of the building on the western approach along Warminster Road, and there are associated concerns with increased light spill. There is a possible issue associated with privacy and associated future residential amenity based on the high visibility of the western elevation from the road.
The proposed construction of multiple dormers on the western roof slope of variable sizes and heights is incongruous and messy, where a more uniform roof treatment would help to mitigate adverse visual harm.
We therefore strongly maintain that the current approach is inappropriate and would be of harm to the historic form and scale of the coach house, and the interconnected historic setting of a NDHA without adequate justification of public benefit. There is no indication that the building is dependent on dormers of this scale to be appropriately converted to residential use. We strongly recommend that measures of a more visually subordinate size and profile are considered, such as conservation rooflights which would retain the roofline.
In relation to the proposed residential use of the building, BPT queries whether the proposed courtyard would provide adequate outdoor amenity space for future residents. The courtyard would be enclosed on three sides by built structures, and a boundary wall along the northern boundary which would retain the most ‘open’ aspect. As a result the space would likely be overshadowed. We trust that requirements for appropriate levels of amenity as set out in Policy D6 will be considered where necessary.
The hedge along the western boundary currently positively contributes to the green characteristics and visual amenity of the conservation area, and we suggest further details are submitted pertaining to the proposed hedge thinning works.
Whilst the proposed residential use is not unacceptable in principle, we have some concerns about the continued fragmentation of the site and the possible isolation of the coach house from its historic context. We emphasise that conversion, and possible future extensions or alterations, should continue to be considered in relation to sustaining the visible, historic connection between the coach house and Hazelwood as a NDHA, and its shared garden context.
By virtue of the perceived excessive scale and form of development, this application would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area, and would harm the setting of a NDHA, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.