St Martin’s Hospital, Clara Cross Lane, Odd Down
The proposed site of development is located within the Bath World Heritage site, adjacent to a significant cluster of Grade II Victorian buildings including St Martin’s Chapel and St Martin’s Hospital, that form the nucleus of an early 19th century workhouse complex. Originally situated outside of Bath, the site remains characterised by the mid to low density of construction and an incorporation of green infrastructure that positively encapsulates the site’s original rural setting.
Following consideration of this revised scheme, BPT maintains its objection to this application on the basis of the principle of development, the impact of new development on the setting of numerous listed buildings and the significant contribution of a largely intact workhouse site towards the evidential and social Victorian heritage of the Bath World Heritage site, and the insensitive design, materials, and massing of the proposed building.
Principle of Development
We understand that the green setting of the chapel that sits adjacent to the core of the workhouse complex and forms part of its surviving rural context is an important local green space that is valued both for its amenity and its contribution to the setting of the listed workhouse and chapel. The value of this green space was particularly highlighted during the 2002-2005 planning applications for the Hexagon in that its importance was noted as being a publicly accessible green space which was to be used by local residents; there were specific objections to its erosion by B&NES officers. We therefore maintain the significance of this portion of land in countering the later development to the north of the site, and continue to query the suitability of the further erosion of the site’s remaining green character.
Impact of Development
The existing temporary, single-storey structures on the site are of a neutral value to the area, and we do not object to their removal or replacement. However, we would highlight that due to their low massing, they are well-screened from the roadside by hedging and dense tree-planting. Consequently, it can be argued that their visual impact on the setting of the Grade II listed chapel and workhouse is suitably mitigated, and their smallness of scale remains subservient to the established massing of the complex.
The consequent loss of green context will therefore be of detriment to the workhouse site, as well as the more immediate setting of the chapel. Despite the claimed provision of mitigation replanting as part of the landscape design, this documentation does not appear to be publicly available. We remain concerned with the amount of hard landscaping proposed for parking; despite alterations, the parking remains very close to the boundary of the chapel, and will therefore have a visual detriment through the removal of green screening and setting.
If the site is deemed suitable for development, the Trust maintains that the scale of the proposed new build, regardless of its altered roofline, remains too large for the site. The proposed building is pushed up against the pavement which will dominate the street view into the complex via Clara Cross Lane, closing off the desirable, open visibility of the site. We continue to recommend that contextual views or 3D images are provided with this scheme to demonstrate the visual relationship between the building and the chapel; therefore, despite the Heritage Statement’s claims that the building will be subservient in relation to the historic environment, we feel that its two-storey height and close proximity will rival the previous standalone character of the chapel. The aluminium upper storey panels, despite claims of a “lightweight” appearance, will instead highlight the building’s failure to harmonise with local grain and historic texture.
We understand this may well be the site of unmarked pauper’s graves relating to the workhouse; therefore, the applicant should be obliged to undertake all their statutory duties in relation to this.
Design and Materials
We appreciate the incorporation of natural Bath stone into the revised design. However, we maintain our previous objections to the new designs due to its continued use of incongruous materials and forms, and its failure to respond to or enhance its local context. The historically-established architectural character of the Hexagon is of exposed Bath stone ashlar and gabled roofing, vernacular aspects of colour, material, and shape that are visibly reflected in St Martin’s Chapel. Consequently, the use of materials with an overly contemporary appearance such as through-coloured render and powder-coated aluminium panels, particularly in the main elevations of the building, is discordant with the preserved historic and architectural character of this site. We maintain that due to the prominent usage of Bath stone ashlar across the site, Bath stone ashlar should be used for the main elevations of any new building.
Furthermore, the continued use of a flat-roofed design is inappropriate and blocky. The broken-up roofline has somewhat reduced the dominant massing of the building; however, the varied shape and height of the building is wholly out of keeping with the regular, uniform appearance of both the historic workhouse complex, and the contemporary detached dwellings along Kempthorne Lane. We continue to advise that any new building on this site should be low rise to enable a continuity of building shape whilst mitigating the detrimental impact of its massing on the setting of numerous listed buildings.
The proposed scheme would harm the group value and setting of the listed buildings and, and would fail to sustain or enhance the character and distinctiveness of the local area. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, D7, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.