University Of Bath, University Of Bath Campus, Claverton Down, Bath
The proposed site of works is the University Of Bath campus at Claverton Down, situated within the Bath World Heritage Site and the indicative landscape setting of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area. Areas of the site to the east and south are located within the Cotswolds AONB. The site in its entirety is situated along (but outside of) the boundary of the Green Belt. The university is located along the Bath skyline and forms part of the hillside landscape setting surrounding Bath. The skyline is predominantly populated with trees, tree belts, and woodland forming Bath’s green, undeveloped setting, and constitutes the Green Setting Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the World Heritage Site. Considering the university campus’ size and sensitive location along the edge of the green ‘bowl’ of Bath, this site contributes to the landscape setting of the World Heritage Site through the implementation of tree planting around and through the site to mitigate visual impact. A large number of tree belts on the campus site are the subject of TPOs. The existing tree coverage is also anticipated to contribute towards the ecological value of habitats in and around the area, particularly where the site is partially covered by a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) along its north-eastern boundaries, abutting Bathampton Down.
The proposed works would include the felling of approximately 79 trees affected by ash dieback (categorised levels 3 and 4). The focus of felling works would affect trees on the north-eastern corner of the campus, part of the southern tree belt along The Avenue, and trees around the southern playing field. Whilst we acknowledge the proposed felling of infected trees is necessary in order to maintain the wider health of the screening woodland, there are some concerns regarding how these felling works would be suitably mitigated through replanting and enhancement works to ensure against biodiversity net loss, and to maintain the integrity of the university’s tree canopy as a whole.
We emphasise the need for a management plan to ensure an ongoing programme of new and replacement planting to maintain the woodland’s screening function; this has been gradually eroded by new university development, allowing new buildings to be visible in views from rest of city. The tree belt has additional significance in helping to screen against cumulative light spill in long-range views across Bath. Any tree management plan across the university estate should account for the impact of any proposed works on the Green Setting OUV of the World Heritage Site and how best landscape views from the Georgian city can be protected and enhanced.