26 The Circus, City Centre, Bath
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.
We acknowledge that the existing rear first floor window opens as a door onto the lead roof of the Victorian extension. However, if minded to permit, we recommend that the Officer ask’s for a structural survey regarding the current condition and structural suitability of the roof for regularised use as a terrace to ensure the location is appropriate for use.
In principle, the Trust is not opposed to contemporary additions to a listed building, although we maintain that the suitability of modern insertions should be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, we cannot support this proposal due to the incongruous addition of the proposed glazed balustrade to the rear elevation of a Grade I listed building, and the group value of the context. The existing palette of historic and traditional materials contribute strongly to the architectural and historic significance of the group. The balustrade design and material is not appropriately justified in this context or integrated within the building, and instead appears as a ‘stuck on’ element alien to the material and architectural interest of The Circus’ backland character and appearance. This application would propose the addition of a distinctly modern feature at second floor level and would result in a greater degree of visual discordance, rather than being more recessively positioned as an infill along the ground floor or lower ground floor.
There is some concern regarding the south-facing aspect of the terrace, and the potential that a glazed balustrade would result in increased light reflection and glare to the detriment of the appearance across the rear elevation of The Circus.
Whilst we note that neighbouring terraces are referred to as precedents for works, these appear to utilise wrought iron railings more in keeping with the terrace’s retained traditional elevational treatment, whilst also maintaining a positive visual transparency. These examples are not a sufficient precedent for a balustrade of this material and design, and we strongly recommend that should the principle of conversion to an elevated terrace be deemed acceptable, that the design is amended to implement a more traditional, sympathetic treatment.
In its current form, this application would have an adverse impact on the significance of a Grade I listed building, the setting of multiole heritage assets, and the wider backland character of the terrace The Circus, and would neither preserve nor enhance the appearance of the conservation area and the special qualities of the World Heritage Site. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn and amended.