Site Of Former Folly Inn Brewery And Pleasure Ground, Lane Hampton Row To Grosvenor Bridge, Bathwick
The proposed site of works is a parcel of woodland situated between the Kennet and Avon Canal to the south and the GWR line to the north. The site is located within the boundaries of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is excluded from the Bath & Bristol Green Belt, the boundary of which runs along the eastern edge of the site. It is further designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) and part of the Ecological Network. In wider landscape views, particularly from areas such as Little Solsbury Hill, the site forms part of the dense tree belt that follows the line of the railway and up towards Bathampton Down, contributing to the perceived transition between the City edge and open countryside.
From the 19th century, the site was occupied by the Folly Inn. The site is indicated to have been occupied by a public house and a malthouse by at least the late 19th century. In 1861, the setting of the public house was opened as the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens; whilst it is suggested that these fell out of use in the 1880s, the site remains labelled as ‘Cremorne Gardens’ up until the 1921-1945 OS. The buildings were subsequently destroyed as a result of Blitz bombing, but as indicated in this application the ruined remains of a series of buildings still survive along the eastern boundary of the site. These retain some attributed historic and evidential significance as a remainder of the original, historic use of this area as well as evidence of industry alongside the canal.
BPT is pleased to be able to support proposals for the development of an innovative low-carbon dwelling within Bath. In light of the Climate Emergency and the goal of carbon neutrality across the district by 2030, we welcome opportunities for the implementation and demonstration of different sustainable building materials and technologies within Bath. We consider that this development could constitute an exemplary case study for models of increasingly energy efficient development and living.
BPT would be very interested in working with the applicant to assess the energy benefits and performance of the development, and to create a ‘best practice’ case study of sustainable new build within the district.
We are further supportive of the associated ecological benefits claimed by the scheme in the ongoing management and enhancement of this woodland parcel. The integration of planting and habitat creation, and the resulting biodiversity gain as set out in the ecology report, as part of the wider scheme (if correctly assessed) is felt to appropriately offset potential ecological and aesthetic concerns with development on this particular site.
There is evidence that the land has historically been developed and in use as part of the Folly Inn and malthouse from the 19th century up until the 1940s. Whilst this use would now be considered “redundant”, we conclude that this site would fulfil the designation of previously developed land.
As part of the submitted LVIA, the site clearly forms part of Bath’s wooded landscape setting and is visible from key viewpoints over and through the City. However, part of its landscape value is derived from its part within a tree belt with a relatively dense and enclosed canopy. The provided Landscape Planting Plan indicates that the extent of boundary tree/shrub planting would be sustained as part of the development, consequently sustaining the site’s contribution to the distinctive appearance and character of its landscape setting. The proposed dwelling would be recessively set down into the steep south-north slope down from the canal footpath towards the river, allowing it to more effectively blend in with surrounding tree cover. We therefore conclude that development would have a very limited impact on landscape views and the setting of the World Heritage Site, although we take the opportunity at this stage to emphasise the importance of integrating the long-term management of the woodland with the occupation and future residence of the proposed dwelling to ensure the continued mitigation of harm to landscape views.
We consider that in this instance, the potential less than substantial harm of development is outweighed by the cumulative weight of the identified public benefits as follows:
• Ongoing maintenance and restoration work to the land to reverse harmful measures such as fly-tipping.
• Heritage gains through the clearance of, and repairs to, the surviving ruins of the original Folly Inn and malthouse (there could also be further opportunities to showcase and/or interpret the historic interest of the site as experienced from the surrounding public footpaths).
• Ecological gains through the ongoing management and enhancement of the site, including compensatory tree planting and provision of wildlife habitat.
• Construction of an off-grid, low-carbon home with an innovative approach to low embodied carbon, which would contribute towards B&NES Council’s net-zero objectives.
• The opportunity to showcase an exceptional example of sustainable architecture in Bath that could inform future approaches to new builds elsewhere in and around the city.
We maintain that the cumulative weight of public benefit would therefore outweigh the less than substantial harm to the character and setting of the Bath conservation area and special qualities of the World Heritage Site. We recognise that this form of development may not be suited to other sensitive areas within Bath’s landscape setting, particularly where these form part of the Green Belt and Cotswolds AONB. Consideration as to whether development is appropriate therefore remains to be determined on a case-by-case basis, informed by an assessment of the special characteristics of a site and the planning balance of harm against evidenced public benefit.
We strongly recommend that should planning permission be granted, an accompanying condition is attached to remove permitted development rights for the addition of any extensions or outbuildings, as well as any outdoor lighting. This would therefore allow for any future development on the site to be appropriately managed via the planning process.