Mulberry House, Summer Lane, Combe Down, Bath

Alterations and extension to existing dwelling and erection of garage.
Our Response

Mulberry House is an unlisted 20th century two storey detached dwelling situated within the Bath conservation area, World Heritage Site, Green Belt, and Cotswolds AONB. It is clearly visible from its elevated position up the slope to the east of Summer Lane, which forms the main westerly route to Monkton Combe, and features in wider landscape views across the Midford Valley to the south. The current dwelling is modest in design with a hipped roof profile and constructed in Bath stone ashlar, and is therefore a neutral feature within the conservation area.

The Trust is concerned regarding the proposed scale of development within the Green Belt on an elevated and exposed south-facing site and feel that this application would propose inappropriate development within the Green Belt on the basis of the proposed extension being a disproportionate addition over and above the size of the original building, contrary to both Policy GB3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and paragraph 145 of the NPPF.

The development proposes an additional visible storey to the property with a basement store set into the slope at a total of four storeys. Whilst the Planning Statement notes that the second storey would sit “within the height of the existing roof line”, this does not account for the significant increase in visual bulk and massing which is only further emphasised by its flat roofed profile. Considering the significant changes to the property in its domestic, functional height from two to four storeys and the drastic changes to the building’s scale, massing, height and profile, the Trust feels that this would constitute a disproportionate addition to the existing dwelling and would therefore be inappropriate development within the Green Belt with no demonstrated very special circumstances.

In the Planning Statement, the existing building is described as “located on its elevated plane, the building’s uncompromising square form and dominant roof line make little concession or connection to the landscape in which it sits.” However, we feel that existing hipped roof allows for a more softened and broken up outline and is more typical of Bath’s roof profile vernacular. The proposed squaring off of the roof and use of a blocky, angular form is therefore far more uncompromising and visually dominant and consequently would be aesthetically isolated both from its sloped landscape setting and the typical architectural form and materiality with which it would appear in wider landscape views.

We have particular concerns regarding the concentration of two outdoor terraces and increased single pane glazing on the south elevation and increased potential for light spill and increased reflectiveness and sun glare to the detriment of wider landscape views across the Cotswolds AONB and into the World Heritage Site from as far as Midford Road. We are therefore surprised at the poor quality and small scale of the existing and proposed long range views provided within the Planning Statement. We strongly recommend that a Landscape Visual Impact Assessment is submitted as part of this application to better assess the potential impact on the openness of the Green Belt, special qualities of the AONB, and the Green Setting OUV of the World Heritage Site.

We maintain concerns that this application could establish a precedent for large-scale, ‘landmark’ dwellings designed to sit prominently within the landscape rather than being of a complementary, harmonious scale and appearance.

This application therefore proposes inappropriate development within the Green Belt with harm to the visual openness to the Green Belt, harm to the special qualities of the AONB, and harm to views into and across the undeveloped hillside landscape setting of the World Heritage Site and is contrary to Sections 13 and 16 of the NPPF and Policies B1, BD1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, HE1, NE2, NE2A, CP8, and GB3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.

Application Number: 20/04652/FUL
Application Date: 07/12/2020
Closing Date: 10/01/2021
Address: Mulberry House, Summer Lane, Combe Down, Bath
Our Submission Status: Object