18 St James’s Square, Lansdown, Bath
18 St James’s Square forms part of a section of Grade I late 18th century terrace, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the wider, monumental development of St James’s Square including the Grade I listed terraces at 1-15, 23-37, and 38-45 St James’s Square, as well as the wider streetscape context of a high concentration of Grade II terraced townhouses along Marlborough Street, St James’s Street, Great Bedford Street, and Park Street. The square is an exemplary example of monumental Georgian design and town planning by John Palmer, following the earlier precedent of the Grade I Queen Square by John Wood the Elder. The square presents a homogenous 3 ½ storey formal stone façade orientated inwards to look over the central private garden. Unusually, the less formal rear elevation in rubble stone and ancillary outbuildings are of high, external visibility from surrounding roads such as Cavendish Road, Northampton Buildings, and Park Street Mews where the rear garage/outbuilding of 18 St James’s Square makes up part of the more modest, utilitarian streetscape within a wider terrace of mews buildings connected to St James’s Square.
We have some concerns regarding the proposed opening of the first floor blind windows in the rear elevation of the mews. These windows appear to be an intentional feature of the original, historic design and layout of the coach house, potentially reflecting their service use, with similar examples seen elsewhere in Bath as part of the coach house typology (see 33 & 34 Green Park Mews). Unfortunately the Heritage Statement does not go into further detail regarding these windows as part of the original architectural or historic interest of the mews building, and instead concludes that the insertion of sash windows would “result in a later phase of fabric to be removed” without further assessment as to whether these blind windows originally functioned as windows. Whilst we acknowledge the pre-existing harm caused by the unsympathetic addition of modern windows in the upper section of the blind window openings, and the benefits of installing a more traditional sash window profile, we highlight that the full opening of the blind windows would result in the further loss of historic fabric and the original blind perspective of the window, with only one window left intact. We strongly recommend that this application assesses in greater detail the historic significance of the blind windows and their contribution to the architectural and historic interest of a listed building, to be more appropriately weighed against potential public benefit.
Furthermore, we note that the proposed elevations exclude the proposed opening of the blind windows, and no further details or sections have been provided of the windows’ appearance, fenestration, or profile. We strongly suggest that these details are provided as part of this application and to better assess the proposed visual impact to the mews building.