Orchard House, Prospect Road, Widcombe, Bath
Orchard is an unlisted late 20th century dwelling, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the indicative setting of a high concentration of Grade II buildings to the east at Macaulay Buildings. The dwelling is set down into the western side of the road, with a steeply inclining drop between Prospect Road the dwelling’s private driveway. Clear sightlines are maintained between the building and the road due to close proximity and a lack of boundary planting. This area is of notable sensitivity due to the extent of open landscape views to the west and north looking across the Georgian City. Key views are from Widcombe View and the rear garden elevations of Macaulay Buildings, but a number of properties along Prospect Road, including Orchard House, are also opened up to expansive views – open views of the city are maintained from the southern end of Prospect Road over the roof of Orchard House, and the building’s western elevation clearly overlooks the adjacent field and out beyond. As such, alterations should be considered in relation to how these may affect or appear in wider landscape views across the World Heritage Site.
Timber is considered to be more appropriate within rural or agricultural locations. In this case, the character of Widcombe Hill and the surrounding area is of a low density in which the built environment is broken up with large areas of undeveloped fields and woodland. The character of Prospect Road is narrow and verdant, resulting in the feeling of an enclosed country lane. Within this context, the use of timber cladding appropriately responds to its setting.
The existing dwelling is disparate in its elevational treatment, with a mix of Bath stone ashlar, rubble stone, and reconstituted stone, and the use of timber cladding would help to unify the building into a more homogenous and cohesive whole.
However, its contextual appropriateness is dependent on its colour and finish. We express a preference for a cladding that is allowed to naturally weather and fade to allow for a more recessive and complementary finish. The proposed elevations indicate the use of “new vertical treated timber cladding”; we maintain further clarity is needed regarding the type of timber treatment and the resulting visual finish.
The proposed PV panels would be mounted on the western roof slope and as such would be visible to some degree in landscape views to the west. Further details regarding the extent of visibility in mid- to long-range views of the dwelling as existing would be helpful in clarifying the extent to which the proposed PV panels would participate in views over the World Heritage Site, and any associated impact. However, we highlight the associated gains including generation of ‘green’ energy, improved sustainability credentials, and reduced energy costs for residents, particularly prudent in light of the cost of living crisis. The installation of PV needs to be considered as part of a planning balance between visibility in views, and any potential impact, and the public benefits resulting from improved sustainability and off-grid energy provision in accordance with B&NES net zero objectives. However, we recommend that further details are provided regarding PV design and finish; we maintain a monochrome panel in a matte finish is preferred to ensure a non-reflective and subdued appearance in accordance with Policy SCR2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.