Street Record, Claverton Buildings, Widcombe
This application proposes the erection of a 20m monopole adjacent to the entrance to Claverton Street, situated within the Widcombe character area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. The street forms a popular, commercial centre for the local community, and forms the setting for multiple Grade II late Georgian terraces including Claverton Buildings, and Widcombe Parade.
BPT continues to emphasise that we appreciate the necessity for the upgrade of the existing provision of access to 5G networks; it is an important and positive improvement of public amenity and technological access.
In principle we maintain that this site is highly sensitive as part of the urban core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site, as well as the setting of many Grade II heritage assets. Therefore, the Trust is highly concerned about the impact of a 20m monopole, which would be double the height of existing streetlights in the area, with little demonstrated consideration of the resulting visual harm to the streetscape.
We do not feel that this application has suitably considered the negative visual impact on the historic significance and aesthetic value of its setting. We would strongly recommend that relevant visual montages are submitted as part of this application of mid- to long-range views to enable a fully-informed assessment as to how the proposed monopole will impact the historic character and traditional, largely unaltered appearance of Claverton Street within the conservation area. We feel that, should this application be consented, it would act as an undesirable precedent for the inevitable installation of further 5G monopoles within the area by different service providers.
We have reached a period in which a widescale replacement of existing, outdated masts is imminent, and therefore it is critical at this moment to establish a fixed framework for appropriate mast designs and positions in the historic landscape to best mitigate the inevitable visual harm.
Ultimately, we do not feel that the prospective visual harm to the area has been fully realised, nor substantially mitigated through the provision of 5G connectivity as claimed within the application. The conclusion that the proposed mast “would respect and continue to maintain the appearance of the area” is indicative of a lack of sympathetic understanding as to the value of the conservation area and World Heritage site, with little information provided regarding possible alternatives and designs that might be more aesthetically sympathetic to the area.
Whilst we note that the Planning Statement claims that this site was selected as “options are extremely limited and the only viable solution that minimises amenity issues has been put forward”, we maintain that further information should be provided to the LPA regarding the other sites considered, and suitable justification for their apparent unsuitability before the current site can be deemed viable.
The application in its current form therefore fails to preserve or enhance the conservation area, would harm the aesthetic and contextual setting of multiple Grade II heritage assets, and would harm the OUV of the World Heritage Site.
This application is consequently contrary to Sections 13, 15, and 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, BD1, CP6, D2, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and in its current form should be refused. The Trust will respond in further detail should this application be resubmitted or revised with relevant drawings of the proposed mast, and the submission of a LVIA.