Lyncombe Court, Lyncombe Vale Road, Lyncombe, Bath
The development site is an area of woodland within the curtilage of Lyncombe Court, a Grade II early 19th century detached dwelling situated within the Lyncombe area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is located immediately opposite the Grade II late 18th/early 19th century semi-detached dwellings the Grove and Paragon House, and looks across the valley to the Grade II* mid-18th century Lyncombe House and associated Grade II outbuildings. The site is situated within both the Local Ecological Network and the Green Infrastructure Network, and overlooks the boundary of the Green Belt and Cotswolds AONB. The site steeply slopes from north to south and consequently forms part of the area’s noted “secluded and semi-rural character” (Conservation Area Character Appraisal 2018).
The proposed site of development is believed to constitute part of the late 18th century King James Palace Pleasure Gardens from the 1770s until 1793, with the land advertised with capability to be used as a “public tea garden” (Trevor Fawcett, 1998) as late as 1805. It has been highlighted that the exact extent of the pleasure gardens is unclear, but an advertisement for a tenant in 1780 notes the potential to for the inclusion of other land assets such as “a wood” (Trevor Fawcett, 1998). This likely indicates that the woodland plot and pleasure gardens were in the same ownership and likely had an ancillary leisure function to the pleasure garden proper as indicated by the surviving east-west walkway up the woodland slope from 1844-88. The significance of the woodland has consequently been emphasised due to the gradual erosion of the pleasure garden site to the south along Lyncombe Vale Road and to the north along Greenway Lane. The woodland remains a largely intact remnant of the pleasure gardens of evidential and social significance to the Lyncombe Vale area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site, and a significant aspect of the undeveloped garden setting of Lyncombe Court.
The wooded area has very high local amenity value and makes a positive aesthetic contribution to the verdant character of the conservation area and the setting of multiple heritage assets, and contributes positively to the landscape setting of the World Heritage Site. and
Trust therefore, opposes this proposal on the grounds of the siting, appearance, scale, massing of the development, which would result in the erosion of local landscape character, and the visual domination of the hillside by a built form.
The development proposed would neither preserve nor enhance the distinctive semi-rural character of Lyncombe Vale, which contributes to the character of the Bath conservation area sub-area, and would harm the designed landscape OUV of the World Heritage Site. Consequently, we do not feel that this proposal (public benefit) suitably outweighs the proposed harm to landscape setting, and therefore the significance of multiple heritage assets. We generally welcome proposals for exemplary examples of eco homes and their resulting public benefit, however, we question the claims made in this application with regards to the eco status of the dwelling’s materiality and design.
The Trust maintains an in-principle resistance to the development of garden sites that form part of the integral garden setting of a listed building, contribute positively to the spatial arrangement; spacious garden character, layout and street scene of the Bath conservation area, and landscape setting and World Heritage Site.
Lyncombe Court was constructed to replace the original outbuildings on the site used to function ancillary to the King James Palace Pleasure Gardens. Consequently, the Heritage Statement indicates that the woodland continued to form part of the original garden setting of Lyncombe Court. The site continues to function in this capacity and remains under the same ownership as the house. Therefore, the woodland has remained a significant aspect of Lyncombe Court’s green, isolated setting from the 1820s onwards and an indicator of the dwelling’s intentional, standalone position within the semi-rural landscape setting of the Lyncombe Vale area. It remains an indicator of Lyncombe Vale’s original plan form and intentional integration of open, undeveloped land to create a picturesque landscape within which individual dwellings are nestled. As such, the woodland site has visual and historic significance ancillary to Lyncombe Court.
Lycombe Court is a listed building visibly designed to complement and cooperate with an established landscape setting. The proposed development would result in the subdivision of the site and the removal of the listed building’s contextual setting with resulting harm to historic, aesthetic and evidential value, and therefore significance.
We oppose the principle of ‘garden-grabbing’ regardless of a site’s specific contextual issues. We feel that this form of development demonstrates an ignorance of the significance of setting to the value of individual heritage assets and the wider cumulative contribution to the conservation area. The removal of setting results in the loss of valuable contextualisation, spaciousness, and green infrastructure, all of which contribute to the historic, evidential, architectural, and aesthetic merit of listed buildings. PPS6 once emphasised the negative consequences of garden development such as the isolation of listed buildings from the wider landscape or townscape, the loss of setting, the loss of preserved historic atmosphere and views, and a conflict of architectural styles without space for mitigating buffer zones. Whilst PPS6 has been superseded by the NPPF, the Trust feels that this principle remains valid in its concerns regarding the loss of garden space to provide housing. We maintain that justifications of housing demand and supply are insufficient for the permanent loss of a historic building’s setting.
Harm to Landscape Setting:
Lyncombe Vale is defined by its low density predominantly Victorian villa architectural grain set amongst established deciduous woodland along the slopes of the valley, resulting in an overtly rural appearance characteristic of a landscape designed as a distinct retreat from Bath’s urban residential districts. The mid-18th century saw an acceleration of spa activity within the area with the establishment of Lyncombe Spa and the Bagatelle, feeding into the integration of Bath’s natural landscape setting into its design and layout as part of its reinvention as a health resort. Consequently, Lyncombe Vale is an integral aspect of Bath’s designed landscape setting in keeping with 18th century Picturesque principles of blending countryside and town, and is a fundamental contributor to Bath’s Georgian Town Planning, Georgian Architecture, and Green Setting OUV as a World Heritage Site.
The proposed development on this land would therefore be of significant detriment to the designed openness of the Lyncombe Vale area, and would neither conserve nor enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area. The proposed dwelling’s scale, massing, and elevated height would result in the visual domination of the hillside, coupled with the woodland’s prominent sloped position overlooking Lyncombe Vale Road and numerous listed buildings. The development would eroded the wooded skyline setting that visually encloses the area whilst intensifying residential development along the hillside contrary to the area’s low-density grain.
The verdant atmosphere along Lyncombe Vale is a significant evidential survivor of the 18th century concentration of pleasure gardens within the valley, which has already been significantly eroded particularly to the south of Lyncombe Court. This development would therefore further eat into the open aspect of the King James Palace Pleasure Garden site with resulting harm to the original, historic setting of Lyncombe Court as well as the overall character and evidential significance of the conservation area.
Considering the landscape significance of this area of the conservation area, we are surprised that no Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) has been submitted to fully elaborate on how the proposed dwelling would sit within its hillside context. We strongly recommend that consideration is given to the visibility and prominence of this design or any ongoing revisions as part of the application process.
The design would be reliant on existing planting for partial screening. We maintain that in future, these screening trees may come under increasing pressure from issues of amenity (overshadowing) and be removed, which would further expose the development to the detriment of the appearance of the area.
This application would therefore neither preserve nor enhance the appearance or character of the Lyncombe Vale area of the conservation area, or the wooded, intentionally rural setting of multiple listed buildings. The scheme would constitute harm to the Green Setting OUV of the World Heritage Site, as well as a surviving remainder of the design of the Georgian city to facilitate outdoor leisure and pleasure.
Principle of Eco Homes:
In principle, we welcome opportunities for the implementation of sustainable design, Passivehaus principles, and carbon emission offsets in new and existing development, where deemed contextually appropriate, to address the ongoing Climate Emergency. The construction of an ‘eco home’ offers a valuable opportunity to create a Bath-based model for sustainable new builds and carbon neutral living whilst remaining sensitive to their historic environment.
However, we question the D&A Statement’s description of the proposal as a “benchmark for sustainable design”. The application appears to largely consider the offsetting of operational carbon as part of the dwelling’s design, but this does not account for the embodied carbon in high impact materials such as cement (Jane Anderson & Alice Moncaster, 2020) which would be used to form the reinforced concrete core of the building.
We maintain concerns that the invasive excavation works proposed would have a significant impact on the health of the woodland and that this does not appear to have been fully realised as part of the application.
This application would therefore constitute the residential erosion of a significant woodland site within Bath’s Local Ecological Network and Green Infrastructure Network with an ‘eco home’ that does not appropriately consider or offset its use of high emission materials. There has been no indication that this proposal meets the development need of the area outside of the applicant’s intention to downsize. It therefore would not comply with Objective C of Paragraph 8 of the NPPF and would not be defined as a sustainable form of development.
Should the principle of development on the site be deemed acceptable by the LPA, the Trust would like to see designs that consider issues of embodied carbon in the interests of developing a truly energy-efficient dwelling.
This proposal would have a harmful impact upon the designed landscape appearance of the area indicative of Georgian town planning and plan form, the setting of the Grade II Lyncombe Court, and would require the removal of a critical green space within the conservation area. The application has not sufficiently demonstrated an awareness of the impact on long range views from Lyncombe Vale Road and how the application would sit on the hillside. We maintain the design and materiality of the proposal does not constitute sustainable development. This application would therefore neither preserve nor enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area and would harm the special OUV of the World Heritage Site and its landscape setting, contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Sections 2 and 16 of the NPPF, and Policies CP6, D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, HE1, NE2, NE2A, B1, B4, and BD1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.