Woodbine Gardens, Bannerdown Road, Batheaston
Woodbine Gardens is a late Georgian building situated along Bannerdown Road. Whilst outside of the Batheaston conservation area, its use of coursed rubble stone and clay pantile roofing reflects the vernacular architectural style of Batheaston village, and it therefore remains a positive aspect of Batheaston’s rural landscape setting. Whilst Woodbine Gardens is not listed, it is considered to be a non-designated heritage asset NDHA by the Local Planning Authority, and therefore any alterations or extensions to the building should be considered in relation to the impact on its architectural, historic, or social value. The building is additionally located within the Bath and Bristol Green Belt and the Cotswolds AONB, and any proposed changes should consequently be assessed in relation to the landscape’s established character and aesthetic value.
In principle, BPT does not oppose the sensitive retrofit and alteration of historic buildings to further their modern utility. We are supportive of recessive, complementary extensions that suitably respond to or enhance the existing appearance of a historic building and its setting.
We are broadly supportive of the installation of micro renewables, where appropriate, in light of the current Climate Emergency and to ensure the future sustainability of the historic environment. However, we assess the suitability of energy-efficient retrofits on a case-by-case basis.
Following consideration of this application, the Trust has the following concerns with the proposed scheme:
Part of the vernacular character and charm of Woodbine Gardens is its balanced, symmetrical appearance; the addition of a two-storey western extension would offset the regularised layout of the existing building and create an asymmetrical, jarring appearance detrimental to the significance of a NDHA. Within the Green Belt, the proposed extension is considered disproportionate in accordance with Policy GB3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. We would recommend that an extension of a more recessive height is considered to mitigate any harm to the appearance of a NDHA, and the open, rural character of the Green Belt and AONB.
Furthermore, BPT feels that the proposed use of larch cladding on both the north and south elevation is questionable within the contextual setting of the building. The area is characterised by its vernacular usage of either dressed rubble stone or Bath stone ashlar, in which timber cladding would be a visibly incongruous intervention. We would recommend the selection of more complementary materials to better harmonise with Woodbine Gardens and its architectural landscape, especially considering the building’s high level of visibility within this area of the Green Belt and AONB from Bannerdown Road.
We are additionally concerned by the potential loss of portions of the historic rubble stone boundary wall in order to create an “asphalt driveway”, with a general reduction in wall height across the site. The boundary wall remains an important aesthetic contribution to the Bannerdown Road streetscape and wider landscape, being an attractive and popular vernacular feature within the AONB, and is a significant indicator of Woodbine Garden’s original ancillary plot form. Suitable justification is therefore required for the removal of a cumulatively significant volume of stonework, and we would advise that elevations are provided from Bannerdown Road looking at the north and east boundaries of the site to enable a better understanding of the aesthetic impact on the setting of a NDHA, and a distinctive, visibly rural area within the Green Belt and AONB.
In principle, we are supportive of the appropriate use of PV panels for the generation of carbon neutral energy, whilst ensuring the protection of the value of the historic environment and countryside. Panels should be sensitively incorporated within landscapes of historic and natural special interest due to this integration of contemporary materials within an area of defined vernacular texture and long-range landscape visibility.
The proposed layout and mounting of PV panels on the south-facing roof currently presents an unsymmetrical arrangement of panels of an unspecified colour, finish and frame. We would strongly advise that the panels be of a monochrome, matt appearance to minimise any reflective glare in accordance with Policy SCR2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and would recommend that the panels sit flush with the roofline rather than standing proud as this draws additional visual attention to their incongruity within the Green Belt and AONB.
The combination of thermal panels and PV panels on the roof has resulted in a cluttered, busy design that detracts not only from the appearance of a NDHA and its wider contextual landscape, but the potential aesthetic merit of the extension. We would therefore recommend that the volume, position, and design of the proposed micro-renewables be reconsidered before this application progresses further.
Fundamentally, we feel that the proposed extension is of an excessive scale and height that almost doubles the visible elevations of the building. This would result in an over-dominant appearance and the loss of the architectural readability of a NDHA.
Therefore, BPT feels that this application in its current form poses harm to the appearance and ancillary setting of a NDHA, the vernacular appearance of its architectural setting, and the open, rural character of the Green Belt and AONB. This application is consequently contrary to Sections 13, 15, and 16 of the NPPF and Policies B1, SCR2, D1, D2, HE1, NE2, GB1, and GB3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and we would recommend that this application is withdrawn and reconsidered.