26 Rivers Street, City Centre, Bath
26 Rivers Street is a Grade II late 18th century terraced townhouse, situated within the Bath Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the wider late 18th terrace, within which the townhouses are individually Grade II listed.
We acknowledge that emergency works have already been undertaken at basement level to address drainage issues and leaking sewage water, although we would normally expect outside of these circumstances that listed building consent should be secured ahead of the commencement of any works.
We are generally supportive of works such as the replacement of the concrete slab floor with a limecrete slab, as well as remedial works to strip existing tanking from the utility room. Replacement of tanking with a lime plaster of a suitable mix and finish would be an improvement, although we suggest that a limewash may be considered as an option which has the additional benefit of being applied in multiple, thinner coats through which the texture of the historic stonework of the interior would remain legible.
In response to the declared Climate Emergency, BPT is supportive of sensitive sustainability retrofits, where deemed appropriate, within the historic environment, as well as the sympathetic upgrade of traditional and listed housing stock to better meet modern standards of living.
The existing windows which implement a traditional-style 6-over-6 profile, are indicated to be modern replacements (see D&A/Heritage Statement), although this is not elaborated on further. We therefore recognise that there is a positive opportunity to improve the building’s thermal performance and reduce energy loss with NO loss of historic fabric.
There are very few examples of ultra-slim double glazing such as vacuum glazing being used in Bath. Similar schemes were recently granted planning consent at 12 Hanover Street and 13 Caroline Buildings, which remain the only comparable examples with regards to potential visual impact. There would be an exciting opportunity to trial this technology, with potential benefit for future window retrofit with an increased thermal performance and reduced visual impact.
The technical specifications of Fineo glazing includes reference to the use of “20 mm grid micro-pillars” between the individual glazing panes, which may result in the windows having a ‘speckled’ appearance and detract from the overall appearance of the listed building. We therefore maintain some concerns as to how this glazing would appear within the principal frontage of a listed building, and the wider grouped setting of the terrace. There is a need for further assessment of visual impact as part of this application, potentially utilising a glazing sample or the installation of a ‘trial’ window with the support of the case officer. BPT would be very interested in engaging further with the applicant with the possibility of a site visit to see the proposed vacuum glazing in situ.
However, we regret that we are unable to support the use of applied glazing bars, rather than traditional through glazing bars, which would be an incongruous visual and material addition across the principal façade of a listed building. This would result in adverse impact to the established fenestration style and traditional construction not only of the building, but the integrity of the wider listed terrace. Examples of proposed multi-pane sash windows with vacuum glazing at Hanover Street and to the rear of the Circus indicate the use of through glazing bars, although this may necessitate glazing bars of a slightly increased thickness. As such, there remains some uncertainty as to the viability of through glazing bars when considered against other similar listed building proposals.
We recognise that there are identifiable public benefits in the installation of slim double glazing and the associated contribution this would make towards the adaptation of our historic building stock to meet the challenges of climate change, as well as their sustainable future use. However, we consider that this would be outweighed by the harm to the special architectural and historic interest of multiple listed buildings, and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, D, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.