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Conservationists move to block Eldridge Smerin's Bath house

Conservationists have launched a withering attack on Eldridge Smerin's plans for a one-off house in Bath's World Heritage Site after it won planning permission last week.

The Bath Society, a member of the Civic Trust, has demanded that the local council reject a separate planning application to demolish a 1980 detached house, an essential prerequisite for the scheme. However the practice, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Stirling Prize for the Lawns in north London, has dismissed the criticism, insisting that the concrete building will add to the conservation area.

Bath Society vice-chair Anthony Crombie told the AJ that the designs, which include a grass roof, fail to meet the standards of the UNESCO site.

'This is completely out of character with the surrounding area, ' he said. 'It will not improve the local environment.'

Crombie also warned about setting a legal precedent. 'We are worried that if the council makes this decision, it will open the floodgates for other projects in the area.'

He added: 'The grass roof will have to be watered and mowed. They have given no consideration to whether the next owners will look after it and keep it in a good state of repair.'

But project director Piers Smerin described the organisation as overly conservative. 'They only seem to exist to stop all new buildings in the World Heritage Site, ' he said.

Eldridge Smerin has also won the 'qualified backing' of the Bath Preservation Trust.

Architectural researcher Roland Billington said that the organisation had been 'concerned' about views from the surrounding area and the use of materials, but 'on reflection' had decided to support it.

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