Waterworks Cottage, Charlcombe Way, Fairfield Park, Bath
While recognising that the principle of the residential development of the site was secured under previous application 23/00895/FUL, we highlight the following strong concerns with subsequent proposed amendments to the scheme.
The proposed footprint of Plot 2 would be increased by 750mm to the south and 800mm to the east to accommodate a fourth bedroom, and would match the previously proposed floor plan of Plot 3 under application 20/04067/FUL, which was refused and subsequently dismissed at appeal. In the appeal decision notice, the Inspector described Plot 3 as “represent[ing] a substantive addition rising to two stories and covering a large overall footprint upon an individual plot of somewhat restricted size when compared to the typical composition of the closest existing plots to it.”
Plot 2 was subsequently reduced in scale to a 3-bed dwelling as part of application 23/00895/FUL, which is directly recognised in the Committee Report as submitted: “Plot 2 is now reduced in scale in comparison to the Plot 3 appeal dwelling. […] It is considered that Plot 2 remains discreet and now addresses the previous concerns of the inspector when considering development levels and plot size.” It is noted that direct reference is made to the reduction of Plot 2’s built footprint and overall scale, albeit the different context of application 23/00895/FUL in which the overall number of dwellings on the size had been reduced with a more generous plot size per dwelling.
We therefore question whether it is appropriate to increase the scale of Plot 2 back to the original plan form of Plot 3 in application 20/04067/FUL without having gone forwards to Planning Committee in order to come to a fully-informed decision about the appropriateness of the scheme in relation to the scale, form, massing, and layout of the proposed development in relation to its sensitive landscape setting. The progressive alteration of the scale and residential capacity of development through variation of condition would incrementally increase the build-up of the site and undermine the established parameters of development set out in the planning permission as already granted.
We further question proposals to relax Conditions 7 & 9, requiring all hard and soft landscaping works to be completed, and the creation of a post-construction report to ensure the development is compliant with the recommendations and measures of the Ecological Mitigation and Enhancement Scheme, prior to the development’s occupation.
The site retains a strong visual connection with its wider landscape setting, and as existing contributes to the semi-rural qualities and appearance of the local streetscape. At appeal, the Inspector summarised the site as being “a gentle transition between urban Bath and neighbouring open countryside designated for its outstanding natural beauty.” The success of the proposed development is therefore highly dependent on the delivery and care appropriate soft landscaping works to ensure these thrive and help to embed the development within its distinctive and sensitive landscape context. The attached conditions are essential in ensuring the delivery of appropriate landscaping and ecological enhancement measures, and we emphasise that these conditions and the associated planning controls should not be loosened in order to appropriately mitigate risk of visual and ecological harm, and ensure compliance with Policies NE2, NE2a, NE3, and NE3a of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.