St John’s Church, South Parade, City Centre
St John’s Church is a Grade II* mid-19th century Roman Catholic Church situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The adjoining presbytery is considered to be curtilage Grade II* listed due to its physical and historical associations with the main church. It forms a significant landmark visible across Manvers Street car park and along a busy pedestrian route between Bath Spa train station and the commercial city centre, as well as occupying a visually significant spot along the bank of the River Avon. The focus of this application is on the coursed rubble stone wall that follows the riverbank, recently the subject of refurbishment and repair works as consented in application 20/02929/FUL, and a dense band of yew trees that are growing over the top of the wall. As part of the previously mentioned application, two of these were subsequently removed. Whilst reported to be in poor condition after failing to respond positively to crowning works in 2017, it is worth highlighting that the yews form part of a visually and ecological valuable green backdrop along the river edge which constitutes part of the Green Infrastructure Network and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.
BPT appreciates that a number of the yew trees on this site are currently in poor health and have not responded well to pruning attempts. We also acknowledge the ongoing damage to the retaining wall caused by tree growth; whilst the origins of the wall are unclear, it is possible that some sections may be of historic value based on the traditional material construction and appearance. We therefore accept that tree removal in this instance would be necessary.
However, whilst replanting trees in this location would not be feasible, we do encourage some form of remedial planting along this boundary to ensure that the green character along this stretch of the River Avon is retained, and to mitigate the loss of a visually prominent group of trees. There could be an opportunity for the planting of shrubs or hedging along the inside of the existing railings to prevent future interaction with the retaining wall, or further planting on the eastern riverbank with associated visual and ecological gains.