3 Bladud Buildings, City Centre, Bath
3 Bladud Buildings forms part of a section of Grade II mid-18th century terraced townhouses at 1-15 Bladud Buildings, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the adjoining approach to the Grade I Paragon, and cumulatively forms part of an architectural setpiece indicative of innovations in 18th century town planning utilising crescents and undulating terraces seen throughout the World Heritage Site. It additionally makes up a localised group of shopfronts and commercial units that broach the junction between Bath’s residential terraces to the north and north-east, and the southern approach to the city centre along Broad Street and George Street. The ground floor, although currently vacant, was previously in use as a retail unit with a 1900 projecting shopfront.
Should the principle of a new residential unit be considered acceptable, we recommend that any future use should be restricted to a worker associated with the ground floor retail unit via a Condition to ensure that a balance of use is managed between the retained retail unit and proposed accommodation, and limit the risk of future pressure of further residential conversion of this building. This residential unit would not be considered appropriate for the provision of student accommodation or as a short term holiday let.
In terms of the proposed justification for works to secure the long-term use of the property, we note that on-site manager accommodation could alternatively be provided across the first, second, or third floors where these are already in residential use and appear to currently be in the same ownership.
The existing stepped access off Walcot Street would become the new principal access to the manager’s accommodation, with the secondary access being located within the rear half of the retail unit. This stepped access can be traced back to the mid- to late 19th century and is Grade II listed with the adjacent 45 Walcot Street. However, the cut-through itself is identified in B. Donne’s 1810 map of the City of Bath, and earlier maps from 1735 and 1694 appear to show a lane between ‘London Road’ (now Walcot Street) and Broad Street that follows the approximate line of this later stepped access. As such, it may be deduced that the stepped access is a rare indicator of Bath’s 17th century plan form and layout, and as such forms part of the city’s often-overlooked medieval and early-modern historical significance.
We therefore maintain some queries as to how this access would be incorporated into the scheme and we consider that this is a missed opportunity for the enhancement of both the stepped access as well as its contribution to the streetscape. Whilst not publicly accessible, it is visible from Walcot Street and adds to the street’s overall character as one of a number of lanes and stairways that runs off the main street. The steps as existing appear to be in a poor state of repair, with damage to stonework and associated vegetative growth, and the existing gate presents a poor street frontage. There is further potential for the interpretation of this area or for works to enhance the appearance of the street, such as stonework repairs or a replacement gate, which would also have added benefits for future residential users. We do have some further concerns regarding potential impact to the steps resulting from residential use and associated need; considering the space is overshadowed and poorly lit, there may be increased pressure to install lighting in this area, which should be included in proposals to ensure any lighting proposals are coherent with and sensitive to the steps’ special historic interest.
BPT would be interested in further discussions about the possibilities of better revealing the significance of the steps as a rare survivor of Bath’s pre-Georgian past, whilst acknowledging that it remains a private working/living space and needs to be appropriately functional.