Land Between 16 And Bypass, London Road West, Lower Swainswick, Bath
The proposed site of development is situated on a plot of land adjacent to the A4 bypass on London Road, within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is bordered to the south by Green Infrastructure Network and Site of Nature Conservation Interest which follows the River Avon through the city. The site is bordered to the south by a public right of way for pedestrians and cyclists which allows movement below the bypass; this route is currently accessible via a permissive path from London Road which functions as the primary entrance to the site. The site was identified as of regional significance following geophysical surveys and trial trenches discovered evidence of early medieval or Saxon occupation in 1992. The site has a notable north-south slope visible from the A4 which provides clear sightlines out to Bathampton Down across the Green Belt, and forms part of the landscape ‘gap’ between Bath and its rural environs to the south and east. The Bath City-Wide Character Appraisal (2005) notes the south-west area of Bath as being “rural with an open character”; the residential grain along London Road and London Road West is of a noticeably lower density with an increasing number of detached dwellings set back from the road within generous garden plots.
We note this application lacks any assessment or consideration of the potential archaeological value of the site, despite previous findings flagging that this could be a site of high regional significance. We emphasise the need for a full excavation of the site prior to development and strongly recommend that this is conditioned as part of any granted permit.
We find that the proposed material specifications of this application are vague, and emphasise the need for further detail to ensure the development is sensitive to the established character and appearance of the conservation area. We encourage the case officer to ask for further details to clarify the design approach.
We maintain the importance of implementing the quality, long-term maintenance and enhancement of the grassland to the south through a landscape management plan, to ensure the creation and retention of habitat is ‘locked in’ to the development scheme as a whole and appropriately maintained once works have been completed. This should be secured via a condition.
We maintain some concerns regarding this residential expansion into Bath’s green fringe and the potential impact on wider landscape views from the south. Despite its proximity to the A4 bypass, the site marks the rural edge of Bath and forms part of the transition between low density outlying development and pastoral countryside. A recognised aspect of the landscape character of the World Heritage Site is the presence of open agricultural landscape around the city’s residential edge, and ‘fingers’ of green countryside that break up the urban street scene.
Should the principle of development be found acceptable on this plot, we emphasise the need for development to be small-scale and low-density to retain the beneficial open and rural characteristics of the site. We feel that the proposed development is too large for the site within its landscape context, and would be out of character with the lower-density grain and pattern of the area. This stretch of London Road and London Road West marks a thinning of development between Bath and outlying rural centres such as Bathampton and Batheaston. The density of development along the roadside is shallow and focused around the central access route into the city, enabling a sharp transition between urban and rural grain to the south. A smaller scale development which follows the line of the road, potentially 2-3 dwellings, would therefore be more appropriate in this area to ensure homes are well spaced and prevent residential creep to the south, as currently exemplified by Plot 9.
With regard to the site layout, we query the inward orientation of the dwellings and the location of the internal road to the south of the site. The relocation of the internal road to the north to set the dwellings further back from the roadside with south-facing gardens might be more effective.
There could be an opportunity for the creation of communal parking spaces, with appropriate green landscaping and screening, to allow for a greater flexibility of elevational treatment or further garden space for residents, as well as a more verdant outlook.
We have strong concerns regarding the impact on wider landscape views to the south from Bathampton Downs and Bathampton Lane. The site forms part of the rural landscape buffer between Bath and smaller outlying settlements such as Bathampton, and retains a distinctive dark night time character. We therefore highlight the potential for significant light spill or sun glare from the glazed southern elevations and elevated terrace spaces and resulting detriment to long valley views to the south. We do not consider the existing Highways lighting along the bypass justifies further harmful illumination along Bath’s rural fringe. We note that contemporary development within this area has been permitted with conditions restricting internal and external lighting (see 21/00013/FUL), and we strongly recommend that a similar condition is attached to any granted permit for the development of this site.