Kingswood School, Lansdown Road, Lansdown, Bath
The proposed site of works is the Kingswood School complex, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The site includes a group of historically interrelated buildings, including the Grade II Kingswood School Chapel (1922), the Grade II mid-19th century Lodge and associated 1920s boundary walls and gate piers, and the Grade II mid-19th century Kingswood School building attributed to James Wilson, later extended in the late 19th century. The site has been substantially extended through the 20th century, with the focus of the proposed energy efficiency works on the late 20th century Gym and Feren’s Building. Views of the buildings are restricted to northern views from Fonthill Road, with Feren’s Building being substantially obscured by street-side tree planting. It is worth highlighting that northern views that include clearer visibility of the roof of the Feren’s Building are restricted to the elevated setting of Westwood House, currently in private use as boarding occupation for Kingswood School pupils.
In light of the Climate Emergency, BPT is broadly supportive of the principle of energy efficiency retrofits and microrenewable installations where this is coherent with, and sympathetic to, the special historic and architectural interest of the listed building and the wider historic environment.
The Feren’s Building is set within a complex of later early-20th century school buildings, and therefore is clearly visually divorced from the immediate aesthetic setting of the Grade II school building. The Gym, whilst situated more immediately along the western side of the Grade II building, clearly reads as a later addition and is partially ‘screened’ by later 19th-20th century buildings to the east and south.
In this instance, it is proposed to mount the PV panels to late 20th century structures of no historic or architectural value; as a result, there is no proposed harm to or loss of historic fabric. We consider that the use of these low-value buildings allows for the ‘light touch’ integration of renewables onto this historic school site, with reduced impact on the significance of the listed buildings.
We are supportive of the opportunity to upgrade and improve the performance of the existing modern structures on the site, and consider that this approach may be applicable for wider application on other modern buildings of limited visibility.
However, considering the school’s location to the north above Bath, we question whether the buildings (and consequently the proposed PV panels) would be visible within wider landscape views into and across the World Heritage Site. Considering the contextual landscape sensitivity of this area, it is suggested that a proportionate landscape assessment or LVIA may be undertaken to consider the potential wider impact of proposals.