Parcel 5663, Broadmoor Lane, Upper Weston, Bath
The site of the proposed agricultural building is located in an area of high landscape value, the Green Belt, the Cotswold AONB and landscape setting of the City of Bath World Heritage Site. As such the visual impact of the building and polytunnels, in terms of its siting, design, size and external appearance, as well as any other associated structures and landscaping must be properly assessed. In the interest of sustaining Bath’s high value landscape character, we therefore endorse the necessity for a revised Landscape Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) which takes-into-account the impact of all elements of change, buildings, structures, infrastructure, wc’s/facilities, waste management and drainage, tracks, earthworks, agricultural use and planting, from surrounding viewpoints (as identified by the Cotswold Conservation Board) in support of this prior approval application. This is so that a proper assessment of the impact can be made and the sensitive siting of any buildings and structures, and appropriate appearance can be properly considered.
The proposals should be supported by site sections, and contextual elevations as well as photo montages. As well as accurate building heights in the plans and mitigation plans.
Turning to the design and appearance of the storage building we would encourage a rethink that uses more sustainable materials and eliminates the use of concrete and plastics. Details of colours and finishes, and any external lighting should also be given.
BPT’s intention here is not to be obstructive to the use of semi-natural land as a smallholding, which if sensitively managed contributes to small scale local food production, carbon sequestration and a sustainable future for Bath, but to ensure that buildings and structures that support that use are sensitive to the landscape character. We would be very concerned about the intensification of agriculture on a site which has not historically been intensively farmed in this way, and associated landscape impacts on the Cotswold escarpment and high wolds (landscape character types). These are notable as two of the ‘special qualities’ of the Cotswolds National Landscape identified in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Management Plan 2018-2023.
We would therefore agree with the point raised by Charlcombe Parish Council and any support would be conditional on the site not being used for residential development and confirmation that the proposed development has a sustainable and viable business model without the need for further growth or expansion.
We are also concerned about potential alleged breaches in planning control. In particular in importing of soil, creation of a bund, and siting of shipping containers and urge the Council to pursue remedying any potential breaches and compliance with any access and transport limitations.
In conclusion, without a more detailed LVIA, appropriate design and material details nor any planting plans, landscaping details and environmental impact mitigation this proposal unfortunately falls short of the standard required to ensure the ongoing protection of Bath’s special landscape character. In the absence of this information this application risks harm to the openness of the Green Belt, the character of the AONB, and the setting of the World Heritage Site.
This importance of appropriate scrutiny of this application is paramount given the potential precedent it may set.