Wansdyke Business Centre, Oldfield Lane, Oldfield Park
Wansdyke Business Centre is an industrial complex situated within the Bath World Heritage site and the indicative townscape setting of the conservation area. To the immediate south of the site is the Two Tunnels Greenway forming part of the area’s ecological network, and to the east along Oldfield Lane is the Grade II* 1920s The Church of Our Lady & St Alphege. The site was formerly the Kingstone Ironworks opened in 1903; the single-storey red-brick building fronting Monksdale Road was built in 1900, forming part of the original workshops, and is a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA) despite some significant post-Blitz repairs to the roof and the reconstruction of the two-storey office wing.
Following consideration of the application, we maintain that little change has been made to the pre-application proposal, and we would therefore reiterate our comments as previously made in response to the pre-application consultation.
In principle, the Trust is supportive of the redevelopment of the site for a mixed-use residential and employment use. We are additionally supportive of the recession of the Oldfield Lane elevation to better open up views to the Grade II* St Alphege’s Church
However, we retain concerns about the treatment of a NDHA of local significance, an apparent discrepancy in the plans provided, and the proposed articulation of the primary elevation fronting Oldfield Lane:
The Trust is disappointed by the demolition of a NDHA, and we do not feel that adequate justification has been provided. In accordance with paragraph 185 of the NPPF, plans should account for “the desirability of sustaining and enhancing the significance of heritage assets and putting them to viable uses consistent with their conservation”, and paragraph 197 states that “a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset”.
Whilst the Colston & Colston Heritage Statement indicates that “the removal of the original Kingston Ironworks workshop building will harm the existing architectural character of the site”, there is no indication of any public benefit resulting from its demolition, or its pastiche reconstruction. There is an absence of evidence that the existing structure cannot be suitably retrofitted and adapted to be used as part of the proposal.
We do not agree with the D&A Statement’s assumption that “it is the character of the remaining sections of the factory which contribute positively to the local area. The fabric of the building is not inherently valuable.” This an assertion with no evidence evinced to support it. We feel that the NDHA workshop positively embodies the historic character of the site and strongly contributes to the townscape through its unusual form, material usage, and industrial heritage. Considering the proposed reconstruction of the Monksdale elevation “in an idiom of the existing elevation’s form”, we do not understand why the existing structure has not been integrated into the proposed scheme to ensure the retention of a locally-significant NDHA as well as making sustainable use of an existing historic building in accordance with paragraph 8 of the NPPF.
We would note that the proposed gable end within the north elevation drawings does not match the proposed visualisations of Oldfield Lane. Whilst the visualisations present three Crittal-style casement windows along the ground floor, the proposed elevation drawings show two windows of a differing style and two service doors. We would ask that these details be clarified with the LPA, and the drawings and visualisations amended to be consistent with one another.
We continue to feel that the articulation of the north elevation could be improved to better reflect the historic industrial character of the site. The variance in bay width and roof pitch has resulted in a discordant, asymmetrical appearance not characteristic of historic sawtooth roof profiles. We additionally feel that the connection between the reconstructed historic gable end and the contemporary sawtooth frontage is inelegant and overbearing, significantly overshadowing the retained historic pitched roof of the Monksdale Road building. Whilst we appreciate the staggered recession of each bay, this has been undermined by the insertion of the ground floor portico which imposes a uniformity of depth across the elevation.
Therefore, whilst we remain supportive of the principle of development, we would like to see a design that better incorporates the distinctive townscape character and industrial heritage of the Oldfield Park area.