Old House, Northend, Batheaston
The Old House is a Grade II listed early Georgian farmhouse, now a private dwelling, situated within the indicative landscape setting of Bath’s World Heritage site, the Bath Green Belt, and the Cotswolds AONB. It is located along the Northend road that is the main routeway into the Batheaston conservation area. The area is defined by its usage of rubble stone walling as part of both the architectural and infrastructural vernacular and its harmonious integration into the rural landscape, in which the Old House remains a positive example.
Whilst the Trust does not oppose material changes that are demonstrated to preserve or enhance the special interest, appearance, or setting of a listed building, we are disappointed that aspects of this application, such as external repairs, are retrospective, with works having gone ahead without listed building consent or impact assessment. However, we do understand that in some instances emergency repairs or works may need to be carried out if they are urgently required. Such justification should be clearly stated in applications.
BPT remains unsupportive of the proposed retrospective works to the boundary walls of Old House that fall under the building’s Grade II designation due to its age, curtilage position and historic ancillary relationship and consequently shared aesthetic and historic significance. The use of traditional forms of stone walling such as rubble stone walling with a cock ‘n’ hen capping are particularly prevalent within Batheaston, and remain a popular feature within the AONB noted for their attractive, vernacular appearance, natural weathering, and historic longevity. The reconstruction of the wall with a “dressed ashlar coping” is therefore out of keeping with the conservation area; whilst ashlar copings have been utilised elsewhere within Batheaston, these are easily distinguishable as part of contemporary wall building, and are incongruous with their setting. These should not be considered as suitable precedents for replication. The stone is additionally visibly new, and creates a jarring contrast with the existing weathered stonework.
Therefore, whilst we appreciate the proposed replacement of the ashlar coping with a “cement roll capping” in order to soften the appearance of the rebuilt wall, we would advise the reinstatement of the original cock ‘n’ stone capping to prevent the further deterioration of the rural, vernacular character of the conservation area, the setting of a Grade II agricultural building, and the built qualities of the AONB and Green Belt. We would additionally advise the use of reclaimed rubble stone over artificial weathering for a more historically-authentic and congruous appearance.
Furthermore, this application does not account for the visible loss of the boundary wall between the original farmhouse building and the later extension to the north of the site. This wall was still visible within the proposed ground floor plans submitted alongside application 17/04410/LBA, and therefore constitutes an unpermitted development, and the unlawful demolition of the ancillary fabric of a listed building.
Ultimately, the Trust feels that the application fails to provide sufficient information to make an assessment of the impact on the historic and aesthetic significance of the Old House’s boundary walls, based on our assessment and understanding of the site we would advise a more sympathetic treatment to ensure Batheaston’s infrastructural character is maintained in accordance with the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. We would also advise the LPA to investigate the unpermitted loss of the boundary wall between the main body of the building and its northern extension further, and implement enforcement action where necessary.