Land Between 1-7 Horseshoe Walk And 49-59 Sydney Buildings Horseshoe Walk Widcombe
Object: the proposed scheme throws up a number of serious concerns for the Trust not least because we are not convinced of the principle of development in this location. The space is an important historic pocket of undeveloped land that provides a quiet, wild green wooded setting for the historic canal and this particular basin on the canal. Such spaces between laid out residential development are important elements that contribute to the distinct character of the conservation area and the special character of the World Heritage site in particular the rural setting as a contrast to urban areas. This part of the city reflects how the wider Bath's urban and landscape spaces are interlinked and flow organically. We question whether any development of this land should occur as there is potential for cumulative harm and erosion of character if the principle is established; this would also include loss of trees to the wooded water’s edge. Obviously the extent and type of harm would need to be defined and weighed in the planning balance against any merits of the scheme, but in our view, the loss of this green space as an undeveloped entity to this type of development would be regrettable and would detract from the ambience and verdant beauty of the overall canal heritage asset as well having an urbanising effect.
Setting aside the debate over the principle of development itself, we are strongly opposed to the proposed design of the dwelling which we see to be a bland response to the site with an alien design that bears little relevance or relationship to context (it is our view that the mimicking of the box-like hard rectilinear form of a Georgian villa is not a suitable contextual response to the rustic waterside location). The fact that the house is to be hidden on the plot in a location which is neither here nor there gives the impression that the house as a piece of architecture is something that is unworthy of being seen. IF the officer is minded to allow the principle of development, then in our view the building should be better oriented on the site to make the most of its waterside location, and it should be a high quality, creative piece of contemporary green architecture that looks to both complement and enhance its context and assimilate comfortably within it. If there is an opportunity here for development perhaps it is suited to a small beautiful house that sits lightly on the water’s edge and contributes positively to the overall quality of this part of the World Heritage Site.
Other elements of the scheme also concern us; in particular the issues relating to access and the potential for harm to the historic canal parapet wall that fronts the proposed access road. The whole access issue seems fraught with problems which gives further doubt as to whether this site should be developed at all. The introduction of car movements within metres of the canal lock would impact its setting and character. Looking at the blue/red line delineations on the submitted drawings, we cannot understand why, if the access is not within the ownership of the applicant, then notice has not been served on the actual owner.
For a new dwelling in such a sensitive location, we would expect to see the inclusion of visual montages (from different viewpoints and above) showing the house and garden within the site, preferably 3D, to better inform the planning judgement. In addition the application should contain details which show a greater understanding of the triangle site, its history and why it exists, as this can help in the weighing up exercise in relation to harm versus benefit.
The proposed scheme would fail to preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area, it would detract from the special qualities of the WHS. The scheme would be contrary to Section 72 of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Sections 12 (Achieving well designed places) and 16 (Conserving and Enhancing the Historic Environment) of the NPPF, policies B1, B4, and CP6 of the B&NES Core Strategy and policies CP6, D2, D5, HE1, BD1, B.4, of the Placemaking Plan. We would therefore recommend the application be refused.