13 Macaulay Buildings, Widcombe, Bath
13 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. 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, 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.
With regard to the referenced applications included within the D&A Statement, application 04/00716/LBA at 8 Macaulay Buildings is not relevant, as it was not proposed to extend the first floor of the link forwards towards the roadside.
We further note that as part of permitted application 05/00134/LBA at 11 Macaulay Buildings, the case officer’s report notes that “we have negotiated this scheme to 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. There does not appear to be a planning record evident for the works at 12 Macaulay Buildings, suggesting this is of an older, possibly historic origin.
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 at 12 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 Macauley Buildings.
Build-up of this link would unbalance the building’s existing, designed symmetry and paired relationship with the layout and form of 14 Macaulay Buildings.
Whilst we acknowledge that the existing variation in linkage types and designs offers an opportunity for further alteration, there remains a consistent characteristic along the street of these links remaining set back to ensure a regular, stepped break between paired elevations. This application would 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.
It is not apparent as to how any gains of the scheme would constitute a public or heritage benefit that would appropriately outweigh harm to the listed building and its wider contextual streetscape setting.
This application 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.