Little Claverton, Bathwick Hill, Bathwick
The proposed development is situated on the land ancillary to Little Claverton, an unlisted late-19th century gatehouse for the Grade II listed Claverton Lodge. The land in between the two was historically used as an access route for the Lodge with the inclusion of outhouses and an extant boundary wall. The site is situated within the Bathwick character area of Bath conservation area, as well as within Bath’s World Heritage boundary. This area contains a high-density of Grade II properties such as Priory Lodge, and Grade II* listed properties such as Bathwick Grange and Casa Bianca and La Casetta, and the area is characterised by its low-density incorporation of late Georgian and early to mid-Victorian villas with generously sized private gardens. Therefore, this is a site of extreme historic and architectural sensitivity to which the design, function, and scale of the proposed development is required to conform.
Following the consideration of this application, the BPT recognises that this site creates a very obvious gap in the townscape, and this may present an opportunity for sensitive development.
While we do not object to the principle of contemporary design in this location, we have concerns about the design proposed given the lack of contextual justification. There seems to be no reference to the character area’s established vernacular style. Whilst the Design & Access Statement argues that the low visibility of the proposed property mitigates its visual impact on the conservation area, the Trust does not believe this is adequate justification for unconsidered design that does not respond to its context. Furthermore, the significance of visibility has only been demonstratively considered regarding the northern elevation, instead overlooking the impact of the southern elevation which consists of large panels of glazing. We are concerned that this amount of glazing and light spill will have a detrimental impact on the view of Bathwick Hill from Bathwick Fields, Widcombe Hill, and potentially Alexandra Park. Bath’s World Heritage status is characterised by its “picturesque views” into which it is critical that new development contributes positive yet subtle visual interest that does not degrade the city’s harmonious Georgian setting. Ultimately, the proposed use of a jarring form and materials could have a harmful impact on local distinctiveness and character.
Furthermore, the development would require the removal of eight trees, with the Arboricultural report noting the inadequacy of replanting plans. The character area is noted for the contribution of private gardens into the shared aesthetic of the streetscape; the trees on the Little Claverton site are particularly prominent along the Bathwick Hill road, with their removal likely having an adverse effect both on the streetscape, and the wider visible landscape. It is recommended that if tree removal is evidenced to be necessary, then more satisfactory planting proposals need to be submitted to counteract any erosion of green character.
Notably, this application had previously been submitted in 2018 before being withdrawn following negative arboricultural and conservation feedback. The current application appears to be materially similar to its previous iteration, and therefore previous concerns regarding this development’s negative and insensitive visual impact on the conservation area and the wider landscape remain valid. The continuity in design therefore demonstrates a lack of understanding regarding the special character of the site’s setting and the valuable topographical relationship shared between Little Claverton and Claverton Lodge.
This proposal would therefore have a harmful impact upon the prevailing Georgian and Victorian characteristics of the area, the setting of significant heritage assets such as Grade II Claverton Lodge and Grade II* Bathwick Grange, and would require the removal of a critical green space within the streetscape. The application has not sufficiently demonstrated an awareness of the impact on views from Bath’s skyline, an integral facet of the World Heritage City’s character and Outstanding Universal Value. The proposed building does not reflect any local distinctiveness, nor does it emphasise the valuable historic relationship between Little Claverton and Claverton Lodge, instead disturbing the readability of the site. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan Policies D1-D5, HE1, NE2, B1, B4, and BD1.