Street Record, Marksbury Lane, Stanton Prior, Bath
The proposed site of development is located along the A39 Bath Road running through Marksbury, situated within the Green Belt to the south-west of Bath. Marksbury is a small, attractive village of a low density concentrated around the central through road and village green. There is a fair concentration of Grade II listed buildings to the south and north ends of the village, with the Grade II* St Peter’s Church on the southern extent of the A39. Whilst tree planting and hedging enclose views along the A39 running to the south, the northern section which runs adjacent to Marksbury is exposed to the east with a low-rise hedgerow, with resulting long-range, sloping views to the north- and south-east towards Stanton Prior, and therefore features significantly as part of the interconnected relationship between the village and its landscape setting, as well as the agricultural character and openness of the Green Belt.
Whilst the A39 forms part of the B&NES Strategic Road Network and excluded from Marksbury’s Housing Development Boundary indicative of the settlement edge, the road is considered to run at least partially through Marksbury due to its intersection between the main residential core of the village and other significant village buildings including St Peter’s Church, Church Farm, and later 20th century residential development at West Tyning. Roadside interventions should therefore be considered in relation to associated impact on the established, small-scale vernacular character and appearance of Marksbury village, particularly at sensitive crossing points at the southern junction to the church and Beech Tree Farm, and the northern crossroads providing a connector between Marksbury and Stantion Prior.
BPT has continued to respond to a growing number of applications for monopole installations in and around Bath, and maintains our position regarding the following points:
• We continues to emphasise that we appreciate the necessity for the upgrade of the existing provision of access to 5G networks in rural areas that are often not as well serviced as our urban centres; it is an important and positive improvement of public amenity and technological access.
• 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).
• We reiterate 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 will 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, as well as Bath’s wider townscape and landscape setting. The anticipated trend in increased telecommunications applications at a greater volume due to 5G wavelength requirements should 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. Operators should be encouraged to share masts wherever possible to reduce the total amount of infrastructure required.
However, we are unable to support the proposed monopole installation in this location. We feel that the mast would be an incongruous addition out of character with the low-rise, loose residential grain of Marksbury and its predominantly agricultural landscape setting. We do not consider that the visual impact on the setting of the village has been appropriately considered or assessed; due to the east-west topographical slope, the mast would be on an elevated position over the dwellings to the west and would therefore likely overshadow internal streetscape views from the central village green. The claim that the structure would be “unremarkable” within this location is unsubstantiated, despite the fact that it would be significantly taller than surrounding planting and infrastructure, and would be over double the height of the closest ridge height, identified at 8m in the Proposed Elevation.
We are surprised that no further information or impact assessment has been provided regarding the impact of the new monopole on the medium and long-range landscape views and the associated openness of the Green Belt. The application specifies that adjacent tree and hedge planting would “act as either a screen or a backdrop”, but overlooks the degree of visual exposure that the site currently has to the east, within which the monopole would be highly visually prominent. We therefore do not feel that this application has suitably considered, nor substantially mitigated, the negative visual impact on the natural significance and aesthetic value of its landscape setting. The conclusion that the visual impact on the mast’s setting would be “minimal” and “will not be an anomalous structure” is indicative of a lack of sympathetic understanding as to the value of the openness of the Green Belt.
We feel that there is insufficient evidence regarding the consideration of alternative, less sensitive sites, and does not adequately justify the selection of this site. We strongly recommend that should a mast be considered necessary in this area that a wider range of potential installation sites is considered that may better mitigate adverse impact to landscape and rural townscape views.
The application in its current form would therefore fail to sustain or enhance the rural townscape character of Marksbury, and would harm the character and openness of the Green Belt with no demonstrated special circumstances.
This application is consequently contrary to Sections 13 and 15 of the NPPF, and Policies BD1, CP6, D2, NE2, CP8, and GB1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and in its current form should be refused. BPT will respond in further detail should this application be resubmitted or revised with the submission of a LVIA.