188 London Road West, Lower Swainswick, Bath
188 London Road West is an unlisted detached dwelling, situated within the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site. Based on topographical evidence, the building may be attributed to the 1840s at the latest, but the applicant indicates that it likely dates to the early 1700s. The building is clearly of a traditional construction typical of the rural ‘vernacular’ present outside of Bath, finished in a rubble Bath stone with a steep-sided mansard roof. The southern gable end faces out onto open landscape views over Bathampton Meadows and towards Bathford. The building has been subject to a number of later additions throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, but these remain small-scale in the form of single storey lean-to extensions, a garage, and a series of lean-to outbuildings up against the roadside boundary wall. The eastern extension appears to be the most visually significant addition where it brings the clay pantile mansard roof covering down to ground floor level. Despite this, the original form, scale, and layout of the cottage remain clearly legible.
The cottage retains a semi-rural position along the transitional route between Bath and Batheaston, historically an area of open countryside, and panoramic views of Bath’s open landscape setting are maintained across the cottage’s garden setting towards the south. The effect is of the retention of a cottage of a traditionally rural typology that retains clear architectural and aesthetic links with its green setting, indicative of the former agrarian separation between Bath and its surrounding villages.
By virtue of the cottage’s suggested age, its use of local materials and architectural ‘vernacular’, and its continued historic and aesthetic associations with the local area, we consider the building to be a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA).
We note that as part of the proposals, no heritage assessment has been undertaken to assess the building’s historic value, or to demonstrate how this has informed the design approach of the scheme.
The proposed extension would be a disproportionate and overbearing addition to the main building, at odds with its historic and aesthetic interest. The extension would be of a considerable scale, more than doubling the overall footprint of the original building and appearing to wrap around the north-east and south-west side elevations of the building. The two storey height of the extension would be further exaggerated by its flat-roofed, blocky form and its poor connection to the main building where it would sit over the eaves of the mansard roof rather than reflecting or respecting the existing building’s scale and form. Development would almost entirely obscure the south-easterly gable end.
Render is not prevalent within the City and is not commonly used on prominent elevations within the Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. Render tends to be brighter in appearance against Bath’s natural stone palette and therefore would be a jarring addition of detriment to the cohesive character and homogenous appearance of Bath’s historic environment. There are further concerns regarding the extension’s visibility in wider-ranging landscape views to the south and the appropriateness of using a render within this context. The use of more traditional, quality materials would more appropriately reflect the building’s palette and texture whilst still offering the opportunity for a clearly legible and contemporary addition to the host building.
It has not been demonstrated that the proposed extension has been designed with consideration to the context, instead reading as a disconnected addition that would be of harm to the cottage’s traditional design and construction, and associated historic interest. The proposals result in a failed opportunity to extend the existing building utilising a more sensitive, innovative, and ‘light touch’ approach.
Proposals would result in unjustified harm to a NDHA on grounds of its excessive height, scale, and massing, appearance and materials. Development would fail to sustain or reinforce local distinctiveness, and would not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.