Weston Island Bus Depot, Lower Bristol Road, Westmoreland, Bath

Prior Approval request for the installation of non-domestic 99.2kw roof mounted solar PV installation.
Our Response

The proposed focus of development is the bus depot buildings on Weston Island, situated within the Bath Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It is positioned between the River Avon and the Weston Cut, intersecting at Weston Lock to the west. The site is publicly accessible via a fenced-in footpath running north to south, but is otherwise visually well-enclosed by development along Lower Bristol Road to the south. Views of the site are marginally clearer from Brassmill Lane to the north where there are gaps in the boundary tree belt. Due to the flat topography of the area and the secluded qualities of the site set back from either roadside, its contribution to the visual amenities of the conservation area can be concluded to be limited. However, it is noted that there may be some capacity for visibility in elevated views from the Grade II* Twerton Viaduct, where views are facilitated over development up against Lower Bristol Road and out across the wider Bath townscape.

In response to the Climate Emergency, BPT is generally supportive of the opportunity to sensitively integrate sustainability retrofits and microrenewables within the historic environment.

We therefore welcome proposals for the installation of PV panels on the roofs of the existing industrial buildings, where the panels would be of restricted public visibility. Views would be maintained from controlled, close-range vantage points, such as the cross-site footpath and ‘glimpsed’ views from Brassmill Lane. The viewpoint from the Twerton Viaduct would be more significant where this would provide a top-down view of the Weston Island roofscape; where the existing roofscape is corrugated metal, the addition of panels would not be materially out of keeping with the existing building treatment and their existing presence within townscape views.

If there is any limited visual harm, this is considered to be outweighed by the public benefits of on-site low carbon energy generation, seeking to reduce the carbon emissions of a city-centre industrial premises as well as contributing to the council’s overall net zero objectives.

We maintain further details of the proposed panel design and finish should be provided for clarification; panels should be of a monochrome, matt black finish where this would be a visually recessive addition to the roofscape and mitigate potential reflectivity or sun glare, in accordance with Policy SCR2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.

Application Number: 23/00481/SOLPA
Application Date: 06/02/2023
Closing Date: 30/03/2023
Address: Weston Island Bus Depot, Lower Bristol Road, Westmoreland, Bath
Our Submission Status: Support