26 The Circus, City Centre
26 The Circus forms part of the Grade I mid-18th century circular development of terraced townhouses known as The Circus, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of one of Bath’s monumental residential constructions with intended sightlines to the Royal Crescent via Brock Street and down into the city centre via Gay Street, and remains a grand example of the Georgian Town Planning and Georgian Architecture, attributes recognised as of Outstanding Universal Value. The proposed development would be located within the generous garden strip to the rear of 26 the Circus; the quarter of the Circus surrounding the proposed development site retains its long, rear garden settings with little built intervention, and later development remains restricted to rear extensions, most of which are mid to late 19th century in origin. The garden boundary wall forms part of the narrow, pedestrian backland character of St Andrew’s Terrace and the access onto Miles’ Buildings, behind which garden activity is majoritively screened from public view. Longer range views allow for glimpses of mature planting and trees, and the shared, terraced rear elevation of the Circus. Whilst Bath’s backland character is defined by the architectural variety and narrative of change readable across the rear of its historic terraced townhouses, the view of the Circus is homogenised by its continuous use of traditional material vernacular and detailing.
Consequently, considering the Grade I status of the Circus and the aesthetic significance of its ancillary setting in framing views of the terrace’s rear, we are surprised that no existing or proposed elevations are provided from the perspective of St Andrew’s Terrace to outline the extent to which the proposed “garden room” would sit above the boundary wall. Based on the proposed elevations, the “oversailing roof” would appear to sit over the boundary wall and intrude into pedestrian views from the east and south-east.
We further highlight that whilst the principle of cedar cladding may be deemed acceptable within the garden context to the rear of 26 the Circus, The Trust maintains that the use of timber cladding would be an incoherent insertions within an ‘inner city’ context that would not relate visually or architecturally within its historic context and the prevailing palette of materials.
Consequently, the current design and form of the “garden room” would propose the protrusion of an incongruous material addition at odds with the historic material and aesthetic character of an urban pedestrian lane within the conservation area. We therefore strongly recommend that the design is lowered, or the “oversailing roof” element removed to minimise visual harm to the conservation area and the setting of a listed building, and suggest that elevations from the external perspective of St Andrew’s Terrace are submitted to the LPA to allow comprehensive assessment of the wider visual impact of the scheme.
We additionally note that the “garden room” would be connected to power, water, and data feeds, and could be seen to consist of a more significant domestic, self-contained extension into the garden indicative of potential short term or holiday lets. We therefore maintain that should this application be consented, the use of the “garden room” should be conditioned to function as an ancillary space to the main building, in order to avoid the functional subdivision of 26 the Circus’ garden space.
Considering the proposed volume of spike lighting within the garden space, an assessment of the overall, cumulative light volumes within the garden and any potential lightspill should be included as part of the application to ensure the continued low-illuminated night time character of Bath, particularly along a small, residential lane away from the main illuminated thoroughfare.