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.
The shopfront occupies a significant area of public realm where Milsom Street intersects with the pedestrianised shopping streets of Old Bond Street and Burton Street, through Union Street into the city core. It is therefore a significant pedestrian thoroughfare between ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ town as well as a space where visitors are encouraged to ‘linger’ with the addition of public seating and the frequent presence of pop-up stalls.
In principle, we are not opposed to the use of well-managed outdoor seating where this does not result in increased street clutter, such as barriers, A-boards, etc, or overly privatise areas of public space.
We maintain some concerns regarding the increased presence of outdoor seating in this area and the cumulative impact on the pedestrian amenity of the area. In conjunction with outdoor seating at 5 Old Bond Street (now in use as ‘Sweet Little Things’) and future proposals for the revitalisation of the bottom of Milsom Street as a ‘market zone’ (see Milsom Quarter masterplan, currently under consultation – whilst this is not finalised this remains a useful indicator for ongoing interest in the intensified ‘activation’ and use of this junction point), there is a possible risk that this access onto Old Bond Street could become a pinch point. The increasing demand for the commercial use of outdoor space would conflict with access for free-flowing pedestrian amenity and therefore cumulatively impact the amenity of the public realm.
We therefore maintain the need for definitive, regulated measurements of seating boundaries to ensure appropriate clearance that will be secured throughout the site’s use and minimising possible seating overspill in future. It is indicated that the proposals would leave a “pavement width of 2.25m at the north end of the area and 6.65m at the southern end”, although it is unclear as to how the northern extent of the seating boundary would interact with the adjacent layby (eg. is the layby included in the total 2.25m clearance?).
We maintain that further design information is required regarding the proposed table and chairs design, colour, and finish to ensure that these would sit comfortably within the conservation area. We maintain that parasols and overhead coverings should be high quality canvas (not plastic), modest in size and reach to prevent overwhelming the street scene. Street furniture colours and materials should be in keeping with the established Bath palette, and should not be overly cluttered with advertising.