The Old Post Office, Old School Hill, South Stoke
The Old Post Office is an unlisted, 19th century dwelling situated within the core of the South Stoke conservation area, the Bath and Bristol Green Belt, and the Cotswolds AONB. The Old Post Office is noted as a locally important building within the South Stoke Conservation Area Appraisal, and therefore constitutes a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA). It is representative of the cottage vernacular style of architecture used within the conservation area. The building remains a highly visible aspect of the village centre from the Green, whilst featuring in critical village views from Packhorse Lane and Old Orchard Hill, as well as the footpath that runs along the eastern edge to the Green.
BPT is supportive of the proposed changes to the west elevation of the dwelling. The reinstatement of six-by-six casement windows will greatly enhance the appearance of a NDHA and restore original features of aesthetic merit. We are also pleased to see the reduced scale of the dormer on the west elevation in line with the original historic appearance of the dwelling. The D&A Statement mentions the use of double-glazed windows; we would suggest that slimline double glazing is used to minimise as a more visually-sympathetic alternative whilst being thermally efficient.
However, the Trust regards the proposed extensions to the main body of the dwelling as an overdevelopment of the site. We note that the existing extensions are of low historic and material interest; however, the proposed scale and height of the new extensions will be detrimental to the cottage character of a NDHA, and the central views of the South Stoke conservation area.
The extensions interrupt the modest, cottage plan form of the Old Post Office, an integral aspect of its architectural, historic, and social value, and ultimately overwhelm the readability of the rear façade rather than providing a recessive, respectful addition that enhances the existing special qualities of the building. Whilst the extensions will be fairly concealed from public view, there remain areas of high visibility around the village Green such as from Packhorse Lane and the footpath running along the eastern edge of the Green from which the dwelling’s drastic increase in scale will be visually prominent at the detriment of the existing architectural and aesthetic character of the conservation area.
Furthermore, the stated 450m3 volume of the extension will nearly double the 492m3 volume of the existing dwelling (which excludes the likely mid to late-20th century extensions and dormers added to the original building core), constituting a disproportionate addition to the original building contrary to Policy GB3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. Whilst the overall increase in dwelling volume is estimated at 38% in the D&A Statement, we do not feel that sufficient evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the existing extensions and dormer windows constitute part of the original building, and have done from before 1948, as defined by the NPPF. Consequently, we fundamentally disagree with the statement made in the D&A Statement that the size of the proposed extensions are “subservient” to the existing building, and emphasise that this application constitutes overdevelopment within the Green Belt and AONB.
BPT maintains that whilst there are positive proposed changes to the façade of a NDHA, the proposed extensions constitute overdevelopment within the Green Belt and AONB, will harm the readability and appearance of a NDHA, and will neither preserve nor enhance the appearance of the conservation area. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 12, 13, and 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, HE1, NE2, and GB3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.