10 Macaulay Buildings, Widcombe, Bath
10 Macaulay Buildings forms part of a Grade II early 19th century terrace of dwellings, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. Whilst defined as a terrace by Historic England and materially adjoined with its neighbours through their set back lower links to the north and south, the recession of this material connection results in the streetscape appearance of the terrace as a regular series of semi-detached pairs. This intentional, ‘paired’ design also reads in wider landscape views to the south from Prospect Road. Each pair is uniform and well-balanced in appearance, with a three bay façade in Bath stone ashlar, and a central bay of blind windows running up to the parapet and centralised chimney stack. There is some variation in design and scale present in the set back side links which likely indicate that these were a later addition or have been significantly altered over time. The majority of buildings along the terrace have had the ground floor link and front door entrance brought forward to sit approximately flush with the principal elevation (including 10 Macaulay Buildings), but it is significant to note that space between the building pairs is retained at first floor level, with the majority of these first floors remaining appropriately recessed; this has sustained the perceived ‘semi-detached’ appearance of the street.
BPT has strong heritage and design concerns regarding the proposal to bring the first floor of the link forwards towards the roadside, and the creation of a more visibly solid connection with its neighbours. Due to the existing two storey link that sits up against the principal façade of 11 Macaulay Buildings, a pushed forward extension in this location would infill the visible gap between the building frontages altogether and bring the material link between buildings forwards so as to be visually prominent. This would disturb the established typology of the streetscape in this area as an emulation of lower density, semi-detached, villa-style housing, purposefully located on a steep hillside outside of the denser, urban context of the city centre. It would also have detrimental impact on the group value of Macaulay Buildings.
The D&A Statement refers to the extension at 11 Macaulay Buildings as a precedent for a similar form of development here. We refer back to our objection made in response to application 21/04798/LBA (13 Macaulay Buildings) in which we addressed the 2005 decision at 11 Macaulay Buildings (05/00134/LBA). Here, the case officer’s report indicated that the scheme was intended “respond to the historic extension on the adjoining house – the pair comprise ‘a villa’.” This appears to be a reference to the existing two storey link, near-flush with the principal façade, at 12 Macaulay Buildings, with the 2005 application seeking to address an architectural ‘balance’ across the pair.
This decision is therefore not comparable to 10 Macaulay Buildings, where both links at 9-10 Macaulay Buildings remain recessed back from the building frontage. Build-up of this link would further unbalance the building’s existing, designed symmetry and paired relationship with the layout and form of 9 Macaulay Buildings, and the decision at 11 Macaulay Buildings is not considered a desirable precedent to justify or mitigate this harm.
The D&A Statement further highlights that later alterations to the terrace, including the extension of the side links along the terrace, “do not detract from the overall appearance and quality of number 10 and the group of buildings as a whole.” This overlooks the consistent characteristic shared by the street of these links remaining set back to ensure a regular, stepped break between paired elevations as viewed from the street, and from the rear in wider landscape views. This application would therefore set a further precedent for increased infill development, which would result in the erosion of this distinctive architectural form in place of a more typical terraced typology. Whilst we acknowledge that there are several existing examples of links that have been pushed forwards up against the principal façade, we maintain that further development of this type would result in cumulative harm to the architectural interest, and group value of the terrace.
We maintain further concerns regarding the proposed treatment of the vaults, with the application of a resin-based liquid waterproofing system (RIW Flexiseal 500 HG) over the top of the historic vaults. BPT is typically resistant to waterproofing systems applied as a liquid or slurry, which can result in harm to historic fabric and impede the natural, breathable qualities of the stonework and exacerbate existing damp issues. These systems can be prone to failure, but removal can result in irreversible harm to, or loss of, historic fabric. Where damp mitigation measures are required, we suggest the use of a membrane system which is more easily reversible, or materially congruous solutions such as a hydraulic lime capping.
We maintain that regular maintenance can help alleviate damp issues, such as ensuring the pennant stone covering is in good condition, properly grouted, and clear of invasive vegetative growth.
We do not consider that the single pane, contemporary profile of the dormer is appropriate within the wider context of the terrace. Whilst there is some variety in dormer type and size along the terrace rear, a typically traditional fenestration style is used that coherently ties the dormer into the treatment of the building body, and dormers remain recessive to the overall scale and form of the terrace and its roofscape. Whilst there is an opportunity to improve the existing modern dormer, a single pane profile sharply conflicts with the prevalent fenestration pattern of the terrace and the dormer remains excessive in scale. We therefore encourage that the replacement dormer is smaller in scale and of a more comfortable proportion in relation to the listed building, and utilises a more traditional multi-pane fenestration pattern in timber. Suitable examples along the terrace can be seen at 8 & 12 Macaulay Buildings, as shown in photographs in the D&A Statement.
The proposed side extension would therefore result in harm to the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building and the wider Grade II terrace, and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area. It is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.