18 – 19 Old Bond Street, City Centre, Bath
18-19 Old Bond Street are a terraced pair of Grade II late 18th century houses, now with a shared commercial/retail ground floor, situated within the commercial core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It contributes to the grouped value and streetscape setting of a high concentration of Grade II terraced buildings along Old Bond Street, Burton Street, and New Bond Street, and forms part of the approach connecting with the significant 19th century shopping street of Milsom Street, where the majority of buildings are now individually Grade II or Grade II* listed. The ground floor shopfront at 18-19 Old Bond Street runs full width along both buildings, and is attributed to 1932 (by Whinney, Son and Austen Hall), with Art Deco-style transom lights, fanlight, and glazed door surround. It positively contributes to the eclectic variety of traditional shop frontage designs visible along Old Bond Street.
Due to the building’s location within the commercial centre of the Bath conservation area, and retained use of traditional shop front vernacular, the shop frontage is expected to comply with relevant guidance regarding the appropriate use of materials, colours, and a lack of illuminated signage, in keeping with the wider historic character of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site.
BPT has strong concerns regarding the proposed addition of ‘solid’ window boxes at second floor level. Part of the special architectural interest of the building and the wider terrace is the uncluttered, well-articulated principal façade in Bath stone ashlar. The fixing of window boxes would therefore result in less than substantial harm to the appearance of the listed building and irreversible loss of historic fabric, which is not adequately justified or outweighed by public benefit.
We feel that the proposed design is out of keeping with the elegant, finely-articulated appearance of the historic façade, and would appear as overly chunky and heavy as an addition. Should the principle of window boxes be considered appropriate, we therefore strongly recommend that a traditional design is considered that more appropriately emulates typical examples of wrought iron window boxes seen elsewhere in Bath, and more appropriate to the high level of significance attributed to the main elevation of a Grade II listed building.
We question whether the boxes would be used for real plants, particularly the proposed box to be located on the top of the shopfront which would be of restricted access for maintenance, watering, etc. We have some concerns to the increasing introduction of plastic and ‘fake’ flowers within the city centre which do not successfully replicate genuine planting or greening measures and can visually overwhelm listed buildings, and therefore express a strong preference for living greenery.
The addition of planters on the shopfront roof does not appear to have an existing reference within the conservation area, and we maintain that a fine balance should be struck between the greening of the streetscape and the retention of the special interest of a listed building. We suggest further details as to how the proposed planting would interact with the shopfront below to ensure this is successfully integrated.
Planting has been incorporated successfully and sensitively within this area, with examples of wrought iron hanging baskets at ground floor level, or appropriately sized freestanding planters where these would sit well within the public realm.