St Martin’s Hospital, Clara Cross Lane, Odd Down
We object strongly to this application on the basis of the principle of development on this site, the harm to the setting of multiple listed buildings of group value and to the design, scale, height and materials of the proposed new dwellings.
Principle of development:
We understand that the green space that sits around the Chapel and adjacent to the complex of workhouse buildings and acts as its setting 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 underlined during the 2005 planning applications for the Hexagon in that its importance was noted as being publically accessible green space which was to be used by local residents; there was specific objections to its erosion by B&NES officers.
We therefore query the legality of development on this land (and the use of boundary fences to enclose the new development) in relation to planning decisions and historic conveyances and assume that this point will be examined in detail by the case officer.
Impact of new development:
The present offices have a temporary appearance and are of no great architectural merit, however they are single storey and it appears for the most part views of them are broken up by existing planting. The impact of their built form on the setting of the existing listed buildings is therefore substantially reduced. The existing listed buildings the Hexagon and Chapel are prominent in scale and the existing office building is clearly subordinate to them.
The green setting of this area of the site, notwithstanding the single storey existing building, enhances the wider setting of the listed buildings. If the principle of new development is accepted the proposed scheme is clearly too big for the site and substantially so. The proposed new development will sit very heavily and too assertively on the site detracting from the verdant green approach to the listed former workhouse and the setting of the chapel. It looks to sit tight and hard to the road which will give it a looming quality over Clara Cross Road. It would fail to maintain the openness of the site and we refute the claim that it would be subservient to the listed Chapel as its scale and height clearly competes with it. This amounts to harm which is not outweighed by the provision of the new housing proposed.
The photographs supplied show the existing trees in leaf in the summer months and the impact of such a large new building on the wider setting of the listed buildings in the winter months will be increased. If new development is deemed acceptable a well-designed single storey building could be appropriate to minimize the impact of its built form on the wider setting of the listed buildings and the overall leafy spacious local character.
In addition the intervention of a new car park adjacent to the Chapel would also detrimentally affect its green and leafy setting, introducing hard landscaping and rows of cars to a grassy area historically associated with the chapel and its burials.
It is our view that the application is deficient in detail in that there are no contextual views or 3D images of this scheme shown from local vantage points and from above in order to properly assess the building within its sensitive wider context. This said, we know that such views would show how incongruous and out of context this building is in relation to its surroundings and the adjacent listed buildings.
We understand this may well be the site of unmarked pauper’s graves relating to the workhouse and therefore the applicant should be obliged to undertake all their statutory duties in relation to this.
Design and materials:
The design of the new development appears to take no cues from the local townscape or character and it has not been designed to be anchored to, respond to or enhance its context. The use of the stepped back flat roof form is not found locally and is not appropriate, it is only used to increase the quantum of development and gives a visual appearance that is at odds with, and alien to the mixed local domestic scale townscape. The roofscape should be articulated to reference local character which is largely hipped or gabled. The industrial aesthetic created by the use of corten steel also contributes to the incongruous appearance of this building. The proposed use of rubble stone is also discordant and more appropriately found in this quantity in rural environments. The wider hospital site is predominantly built in Bath ashlar and it is this material that should be used for the main elevations of any building. As previously said, any new building on this site should be low rise and built in materials within the Bath urban palette.
St Martin’s Chapel:
We fail to understand how the proposed change of use of this chapel from D2 to include B1 (offices) and D2 (entertainment) would not involve some form of internal rearrangement of space and insertions of division, and therefore require listed building consent. The submitted plan for the chapel shows an interior space that is (already?) subdivided for different areas of storage. We understand the owners of the chapel building recently removed a damaged stain glass window and we ask when this is to be repaired and reinstated as being part of the historic fabric of the listed building.
We are concerned regarding the gradual erosion of the significance of this listed asset, its setting and its historic fabric and would urge the case officer to consult colleagues in the historic environment team for their views on the proposed scheme.
The proposed scheme would neither preserve nor enhance the special interest of the listed buildings and their group value and would fail to maintain or enhance the character of the local area. It would harm the amenity and value of the local green space and erode its quality. It would therefore detract from the special qualities of the WHS. The scheme would be contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 (Conserving and Enhancing the Historic Environment) of the NPPF, policies B1, B4, and CP6 of the B&NES Core Strategy and policies CP6, D2, D5, HE1, BD1, B.4of the Placemaking Plan. We would therefore recommend the application be refused.