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Burwalls House, Clifton Kersfield Developments

Planning Introduction


Kersfield project: St John’s School

Based in Bath and London, Kersfield is a property development group with a wealth of experience and a track record in delivering quality residential schemes throughout the UK. Kersfield’s commitment to place making and regeneration projects is achieved locally and nationally in working closely with dedicated teams of design professionals. Through these long established relationships, the group

delivers creativity and design excellence in partnership with local communities. Currently Kersfield’s projects have a gross development value in excess of £60M, including 2 high profile heritage projects in Clifton. These are the conversion of the former St Johns School at the top of Whiteladies Road into 5 x 3 bedroom houses and two new mews houses and the conversion of 4-5 Litfield Place into 8 luxury apartments.

The proposed scheme seeks the conversion and sub-division of the existing Grade II Burwalls House, to deliver five residential apartments. In addition to this, the demolition of existing buildings within the Estate is proposed (excluding the Annexe and Lodge) to be replaced with five residential dwellings (excluding the Lodge).

Clifton Suspension Bridge

No rth R


The site is located on the southern side of Bridge Road, directly to the west of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. This area consists of the settlement of Leigh Woods, within the Parish of Long Ashton. The site has until recently been used as a residential training and conference centre, on a commercial basis, by the University of Bristol.

The Mai curtilag and gar

Burwall plannin possible ‘potenti




d R e

The Main House 1,130 sq m (12,165 sq ft)

The site is considered to be a developed site within the Green Belt, which is capable of residential redevelopment given the context of the existing buildings and established uses of the site.

The Annexe 900 sq m (9,690 sq ft)

The Lodge

The total new build floorspace will not exceed the amount of floorspace that is being demolished; therefore the proposed development constitutes ‘replacement’ floorspace, compliant with the requirements of Green Belt planning policy (Local Plan policy RD/3). On balance, when considering the net benefits of the approach proposed, it is considered the proposals will make a direct and positive contribution to the Burwalls Estate and moreso the context of the Green Belt and the setting of the listed buildings and Conservation Area.

90 sq m (970 sq ft)

TOTAL d R s l al

w r u B

2,120 sq m (22,820 sq ft)

Next Steps A full planning application, including applications for Listed Building Consent and Conservation Area Consent will be submitted to North Somerset Council at the end of March 2014.

Once the planning application has been registered there will be an opportunity for the public to comment directly to the Local Planning Authority during the statutory 21 day consultation period, and again when the applications are considered by the Development Control Planning Committee.

Site Context and Approach Burwalls House is situated in an area designated as Green Belt and is within the Leigh Woods Conservation Area. It has magnificent views over the Avon Gorge and to Clifton Suspension Bridge and its grounds lies adjacent to the Leigh Woods an area of National Trust woodland with public access and designated as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. The creation of a landscape master plan offers the potential to capture and extend the quality of the mature historic setting across the site, provide new and exciting interventions that are sensitive to the setting, and carefully integrate the landscape into the redevelopment proposals. The grounds already enjoy several distinct character areas which will require sensitive and imaginative treatment to enhance and bring them to life. We propose that the redevelopment of the main house and outlying buildings should go hand in hand with an integrated landscape composition which offers privacy, drama and beauty. Our approach to the landscape will be to develop a landscape strategy to guide the management and maintenance of the landscape and to provide reassurance that the quality and biodiversity of Burwalls is maintained in the long term.

Key 1. Front facade of Burwalls House 2. Terraced lawn 3. Informal lawns to west of house 1

4. Wooded parklands 5. Burgh Walls Camp

Front facade of Burwalls House

6. Ornamental parkland to the east


7. Gate house; stable block; lodge building; entrance gates




6 Terraced lawn


Character areas of the grounds - 1903 map

Main site entrance

Informal lawns to west of house

Gate house

Burwall a reside existing

Ornamental parkland

Wooded parklands

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Burwalls House, Clifton Proposed Site Layout Key 1. Burwalls house 2. Entrance drive 3. Lodge and stables development area


4. New parking area 4

5. Grass terrace and new tennis court 6. New footpath connects to circular walk 7. Existing gatehouse


8. Existing woodlands

8 8 5


2 7

Proposed schedule of accommodation Main house:

Converted into five apartments


Four new dwellings

Stable block converted into two dwellings


Retained as dwelling

Total of 28 parking spaces

Burwalls Estate Annex buildings

Aerial image of existing grounds

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Burwalls House, Clifton The Main House Originally design as an individual dwelling for Joseph Leech and later the Wills family, the building has over the course of its history been altered and extend along with evolution of use requirements. These alterations have varied in their degrees of success, with early interventions by the Wills family, adding the music room and dining hall to the North and South of the building respectively.

Key 1872 Early 1900s Post 1950 Modern interventions to be removed

In 1948 the building switched from private ownership to become part of the Bristol University estate and their more utilitarian use of the building lead to some far less successful interventions. Referring to the historical phasing plan (see opposite), we can broadly pick out the original building form (in red), the early 1900’s rooms added by the Wills to the North and South (blue) and the later university addition and infills to the rear of the building (green). Probably the most striking of these interventions being the enclosure of the cloister to the rear of the building by the construction of the lecture hall in the Northern corner of the building.

The reintroduction of residential use would appear to offer the most successful route to improve the layout of the building, however a single occupancy approach (as original design) is unlikely to be a sustainable or economically viable solution. The emerging design proposals looks therefore to introduce a low density high value apartment conversion approach based on a reinstatement of the footprint of the building to its pre-1950’s form, building. This will enable the grandeur of the building to be reinstated, embracing the layers of design introduced by the Wills family.



Clifton Suspension Bridge


Within the building it is evident that the principal spaces to the front of the house are reasonably intact to their original form and detail. As you move further away for the main elevation the plan and layout becomes more altered and stripped of detail. Zones have been heavily compromised by the alterations and infills added to support the utilitarian functional use of the building by the University. One of the key objectives therefore in the conversion strategy will be to strip away the later detrimental alterations to express original form and re-engage will the grandeur of the building.

Burwalls falls under the jurisdiction of North Somerset Council. Whilst Burwalls has operated as a residential training centre and conference centre for a number of years we understand the existing use to be Sui Generis under the Use Classes Order of 1987 (as amended). The Main House is Grade II listed with parts of the Annexe Building and Lodge considered as curtilage listed structures. Burwalls lies within the Leigh Woods Conservation Area. The grounds and gardens have an unregistered park and garden designation and Burwalls includes or is adjacent to a number of sites of archaeological significance to include an Iron Age Hill Fort. Burwalls is suitable for conversion and redevelopment for a wide variety of uses subject to planning. Burwalls represents a significant Heritage asset and should be preserved and where possible enhanced. A Concept Statement commissioned by The University of Bristol identifies a ‘potential development zone’ to include the Annexe Building, squash court and car park area.

Burwalls House, historical phasing plan ge




The Main House 1,130 sq m (12,165 sq ft)

The Annexe 900 sq m (9,690 sq ft)

The Lodge 90 sq m (970 sq ft)

lls rwa



TOTAL 2,120 sq m (22,820 sq ft)

Total Site area 1.98 hectares (4.89 acres)

Forecourt entrance to main building

Forecourt entrance with view of the suspension bridge

Grass terraces lead up to the house

These are approximate gross internal areas and exclude the squash court. These areas have been taken from floor plans and we have not carried out a detailed measuring survey

Burwalls Grounds

South elevation with paths and planting beds

11 10





1. footpath links to entrance



East return elevation with overgrown planting



Precedent landscape examples

2. communal entrance 3. terrace: simple grass, gravel & box hedging 6

4. private terrace

4 5


5. private garden with pond 6. estate railing to maintain visual connection between garden spaces

estate railings

7. private parking court 8. inner courtyards reinstated 9. existing box hedge and cobble drainage channel 10. gravel 11. existing grass terraces

7 4

landscape used to frame the view


8 8

12. improved pond 13. New communal parking

Clandon Park - box hedging and planting

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Burwalls House, Clifton Existing North West Facade of Main House

opportunity to use the tower

cloister entrance. Cloister reinstated with views to the courtyard 20th century lecture hall to be removed

Bringing the Tower into Use The tower presents as a key and prominent element in the composition of the north façade of the building but it is disappointing to find that it is redundant in the internal layout of the building. On the first and second storey there is door way access but these are only used as storage bolt holes. Given that

the tower extends a further storey with windows on four faces crowned by a grand cupola this feels like a missed opportunity. The emerging scheme therefore proposes inserting a staircase into the tower that will link the main stair case up to the top apartment (rather than the servant stair). This will bring

the tower in to the heart the scheme forming an interesting romantic style link to the top storey. The stair will be open to the upper windows of the tower as a lantern over the new staircase or even potentially extending the stair upwards to realise the views of the tower. Exisitng Bridge Street Elevation

The Main House Proposals Key to plans new intervention contained in ground floor, already disturbed on levels above


MB1 e.

stair removed improves facade and interior layout

a. 1. B2

P4 P3


new interventions in rear of building away from principle rooms

2. g.



Ground Floor

First Floor

a. b. c. d. e. f. g.

a. New Lift b. Tower used as spiral staircase c. Existing stair removed

Lift (new) New pond N/A Private inner courtyard New access to garden terrace Private terrace Glazed Cloister reinstated

Second Floor a. b. c.

Proposed new fabric intervention

Lift Tower spiral staircase New sky light over entrance hall





d. MB1

Ground Floor


a. B2







B3 4.




c. MB1

Second Floor

First Floor

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Burwalls House, Clifton The Annex

The Annex. Unsympathetic structures grouped around stable block

View from road - Annex block, with square hall in foreground

Modern additions removed from stable facade

kitchen garden with outer boundary wall and inner store retaining wall survives today are original elements dated from 1970’2

single storey structures added circa 1955

ancillary buildings added post 1904, demolished circa 1950’s

Extract of Detailed Site Plans Circa 1960 (see HA OS Maps Fig 2-13)

Single storey modern structures and interventions removed

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Burwalls House, Clifton Proposed lodge and stables redevelopment layout

estate fence and woodland shrubs reinforcing boundary to orchard existing orchard wall retained

existing woodland walk route

woodland walk retained trees removed to improve light into orchard garden


D woodland decking

bay window








A 7












14 15

new gravel drive servicing existing gateway




3 2











dovecot studio over garage for unit 2 possible extension over parking (subject to levels)



trees removed to improve garden to No. 6


Character of stable block and gate house carried through into new buildings

West gable of stable block

The gate house

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Burwalls House, Clifton The Annex Section A-A

House 6

House 5 House 4

Section B-B

Stable conversion (Houses 1 and 2)


House 3 Existing gate house

Section C-C

House 6 Stable block

Section D-D

Woodland garden

Parking barn

House 5

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Burwalls House, Clifton

“A low-density, high-quality residential development of the house and the annex provides an ideal basis to retain and enhance the grandeur of the Burwalls House estate. This approach has the potential to provide a long term management legacy for the house, annex, and the extensive grounds to secure a sustainable future for the site as a whole.”

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Burwalls House, Clifton  
Burwalls House, Clifton  

Display boards for public consultation event held on 5th march 2014. For more information, please contact