24 Sydenham Buildings, Westmoreland, Bath
24 Sydenham Buildings forms part of an unlisted late 19th century residential terrace situated within the Bath World Heritage Site and the indicative townscape setting of the conservation area. The terrace runs down towards the Great Western Railway line in a similar typology to other contemporary streets in the area such as Dorset Street and Stuart Place, and would likely have functioned as modest housing for railway workers as part of the wider, terraced residential provision for Bath’s industrial sector to the south of Bath and along the riverside. The two-storey stepped terrace is modest in scale and form with a two bay frontage in Bath stone ashlar and articulated stone porch over the front door and running pitched roofs regularly intersected with chimney stacks. Houses are provided with strips of rear garden that sit ‘back-to-back’ with the gardens of adjacent terraces on Westmoreland Street. Whilst of modest scale and construction, the terrace therefore constitutes a well-formed example of Bath’s late 19th century terraced housing stock with associated evidential and social significance associated with the city’s often-overlooked industrial past.
We are therefore resistant to the proposed demolition of 24 Sydenham Buildings without appropriate justification. We note that the demolition is proposed “due to subsidence”, but there is no evidence or additional information provided to further clarify the condition of the property as existing, such as a structural survey or assessment. Furthermore, there does not appear to be any consideration of remedial repair works to address subsidence issues whilst retaining the existing building. The reuse of historic buildings, whether listed or unlisted, is strongly encouraged in Policies CP6 and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and we strongly recommend that all options for reuse and retention are considered appropriately before demolition is proposed with the irreversible loss of a late 19th century building.
We maintain that in light of the Climate Emergency, ‘the greenest building is the one that already exists'. Efforts should be made where possible to retain and reuse existing buildings and the embodied carbon held within existing building fabric. The Sustainable Construction Checklist does propose a 19% reduction in CO2 emissions, but this does not account for the release of embodied carbon from the existing structure and the resulting generation of landfill waste and air pollution, as well as the carbon costs of new building materials. Considering the proposed dwelling is intended to match the existing dwelling in appearance, demolition remains inadequately justified.
We have some further concerns regarding the proposed scale of development. The addition of another ‘terraced dwelling’ in appearance on the end of the reconstructed dwelling appears awkward and cramped in size, and does not sit comfortably on a terrace that is otherwise regular and uniform in form and scale. The size of the rear dormer is excessive and would dominate the rear roof slope.
We note that the area sits within the HMO Test 1 area of 25% HMO saturation. Whilst this proposal would not constitute a change of use, the provision of 2-3 bed flats with a shared garden space would appeal more to students than families. Considering the increasing volume of housing in this area used by a mix of students and young professionals, we trust that the case officer will consider potential issues of detriment to residential amenity.