Little Orchard, Church Street, Widcombe
The site of proposed tree works is land attached to Little Orchard, an unlisted 20th century property situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is made up of the land forming Little Orchard’s garden setting, and the field to the south which is subject to a second phase of tree works proposed in 21/00097/TCA; the Trust will consider the cumulative impact of the works proposed across both halves of the site due to their shared aesthetic contribution to the streetscape. The site is of significant public visibility along both Church Street and Ralph Allen Drive on the southern approach to the Grade I Prior Park. The existing concentration of mature planting along the site’s boundary positively contributes to the semi-rural, verdant character of the Prior Park area of the conservation area, with dwellings intentionally set within bands of woodland and open countryside as a designed ‘retreat’ from Bath’s urban core. It forms the green setting of the Grade II* Abbey Cemetery which runs adjacent along the roadside, whilst additionally complementing the area’s usage of boundary vernacular (rubble stone walling). The resulting visual effect is of a low density, undeveloped roadside treatment, with the presence of mature planting in a significant volume eliciting a sense of enclosure.
The Trust is therefore concerned by the extent of the proposed felling, and the resulting impact this would have on the character and appearance of this area of the conservation area. Cumulatively, both applications propose the loss of approximately 125 trees without adequate replacement with appropriate specimens. Instead, a holly hedge of indeterminate height is proposed in place of the current planting. We have concerns that this would result in a more suburban, formalised appearance out of character with the established semi-rural characteristics of the streetscape and the wider Prior Park area. Furthermore, this would drastically reduce the overall height of planting along Ralph Allen Drive and would be of significant detriment to the established feeling of enclosure and wider woodland landscape character of the conservation area.
Therefore, whilst we appreciate the need for the ongoing maintenance and management of the treeline along the roadside and associated safety risks to pedestrians and vehicles, we feel this application would neither preserve nor enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area. The removal of boundary planting would result in the opening up and increased visual ‘domestication’ of Ralph Allen Drive at the detriment to the wooded landscape character and appearance of the conservation area, and the Landscape Setting OUV of the World Heritage Site.
We therefore encourage that should the proposed extent of tree felling be considered acceptable, the boundary should be replanted with an appropriate number of mature specimens of a species to be decided with the relevant officer to preserve the verdant appearance and character of this area.