Street Record, Footpath The Hollow To Whiteway Road, Whiteway, Bath
The proposed site of development is located on the corner of The Hollow on the junction with Whiteway Road, situated within the World Heritage Site and the indicative townscape setting of the Bath conservation area. The site overlooks Haycombe Cemetery, the boundary of which also forms the boundary of the Green Belt. The area is of a low-rise, residential character with a predominant 20th century architectural vernacular; the presence of large green spaces including Roundhill and Haycombe Cemetery visually breaks up the built environment and contributes a distinctive green and open character to the townscape. The site is on the residential periphery of Bath, open to the west and south-west towards Englishcombe, although well-established tree cover around the west boundary of Haycombe Cemetery limits wider sloping landscape views.
We note this application forms an increasing number of applications in and around Bath for new telecommunications and 5G masts. These include:
• 19/05534/FUL, Woolley Lane, Charlcombe – Refused.
• 20/01315/TEL, Woolley Lane, Charlcombe – Withdrawn.
• 20/02388/TEL, Claverton Buildings – Refused.
• 20/03255/FUL, Larkhall Sports Club, Charlcombe – Permitted.
• 21/02310/TEL, Locksbrook Road - Approved.
• 21/03024/TEL, Old Fosse Road – Refused.
BPT continues to emphasise that we appreciate the necessity for the upgrade of the existing provision of access to 5G networks throughout Bath; it is an important and positive improvement of public amenity and technological access. We note the increasing pressure for 5G installation and the upgrade of existing telecommunications services that are reaching the end of their lifespan, although we have concerns regarding the current piecemeal approach of installation proposals by multiple different service providers.
We feel that the current, more slender monopole design is preferable to a bulkier, more top heavy design as has previously been proposed elsewhere (see application 19/05534/FUL). Due to the width of the grass verge where the mast is proposed, the development would not impinge on the pedestrian highway.
However, we do have some concerns regarding the proposed location of the mast in close proximity to residential housing and in sharp contrast to the predominantly low profile and medium density character of this residential area. It is unclear as to how the mast “will assimilate well into the immediate street scene and not be detrimental” as claimed in the Planning Statement. The proposed mast would sit at the end of a residential road with further residential streets to the north and south along Whiteway Road; no justification has been provided for the selection of this site, whilst alternative sites were discounted on the basis of being outside residential housing. The mast would be visually incongruous with the two storey, spacious appearance of the townscape.
BPT reiterates the need for a cohesive city-wide operations plan for the future installation of telecommunications equipment. We maintain concerns that the permit of singular applications would establish a precedent for piecemeal development without consideration of the wider cumulative impact on the character and appearance of the conservation area and the special interest of the World Heritage Site. Due to the shorter range of 5G wavelengths, an unspecified increase in volume of telecommunications installation would be required to provide connectivity both in and around Bath, as well as increasing pressure to deliver within sensitive historic environments and landscapes. We therefore maintain concerns regarding this application as a potential precedent for the intensified roll-out of 5G masts within the sensitive landscape setting of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site, without the formulation of a demonstrated scheme or operations plan regarding ongoing upgrades, either within a single supplier or across multiple suppliers.
BPT consequently urges this increasing trend in telecommunications applications to be accompanied by a cross-operator masterplan that highlights appropriate sites, mast designs, and volume caps across Bath and north-east Somerset to ensure a cohesive and sustainable approach to district-wide upgrades. We maintain that operators should be encouraged to share masts wherever possible to reduce the total amount of infrastructure required. We encourage the consideration of a palette of potential monopole designs to ensure citywide consistency whilst favouring a slimmer profile which would be less visually bulky or top heavy, and therefore of reduced visual harm.
We highlight similar collaborations in the creation of a Joint Accord between service providers and the Cotswold Conservation Board in 2011.
There appears to be no reference to telecommunications equipment within the current Bath Pattern Book which is of concern, and allows for an increasing variety of incongruous and intrusive designs without guidance on what may be appropriate within the historic city core of the conservation area and World Heritage Site, and its interconnected urban setting.