29 Sydney Buildings, Bathwick, Bath
29 Sydney Buildings is a Grade II early 19th century detached residential building by John Pinch situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It directly overlooks the Kennet & Avon Canal to the rear, with the upper floors clearly visible from the towpath. The rear elevation is of a symmetrical three bay form, with a later projecting central bay inserted within the original Georgian façade. This has resulted in an increased emphasis on the central bay as the focal viewpoint of the building on both street-side and canal-side elevations, within public views.
BPT does not typically comment on internal works without the benefit of a site visit. However, we maintain strong concerns regarding the partial removal of the masonry wine vaults from the historic cellar (now a utility). The existing wine racks are indicated to be 810mm, with a proposed reduction to 250mm (69% reduction).
It is indicated that the wine racks are part of the original historic fabric of the building retained at the original ground floor level (prior to floor lowering works in the 1990s). As such, these are of evidential, historic, and social significance to the building as part of its historic use and habitation. The fact that this is not referred to in the listing description is irrelevant and the wine racks remain a distinctive feature that is part of the Grade II fabric of the building.
As set out in paragraph 202 of the NPPF, “Where a development proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.” The surviving wine vaults are strongly indicative of the cellar’s original historic use and relationship to the rest of the building. Additional significance is granted due to Bath’s city-wide prevalence of vaults and cellars, including features such as wine racks and coal chutes and stores. Removal would therefore be of direct harm to this attributed significance. However, the proposed benefits as identified are private and therefore cannot be considered to outweigh the irreversible loss of historic fabric and associated significance.
This application would result in unjustified harm to a Grade II building and is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.