40 St James’s Square, Lansdown, Bath
40 St James’s Square forms part of a section of Grade I late 18th century terrace at 38-45 St James’s Square, situated within the Bath Conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the wider, monumental development of St James’s Square including the Grade I listed terraces at 1-15, 16-22, and 23-37 St James’s Square, as well as the wider streetscape context of a high concentration of Grade II terraced townhouses along Marlborough Street, St James’s Street, Great Bedford Street, and Park Street. The square is an exemplary example of monumental Georgian design and town planning by John Palmer, following the earlier precedent of the Grade I Queen Square by John Wood the Elder.
We are supportive of proposals for the replacement of the existing, deteriorating concrete lightwell stairs with steps made of “stone to match the surrounding pavements of the square” (presumed to be pennant stone), with a cast iron balustrade. We are generally supportive of the replacement of this non-historic feature where the proposed replacement steps would utilise traditional materials and constitute an enhancement to a Grade I listed building, although it would be helpful to clarify that the same fixing points in the principal façade at lower ground floor level would be reused.
As part of proposals, it is further proposed to enclose the two lightwell ‘overhangs’ to the front and rear of the building to create two new lobby areas to the lower ground floor area. There is generally a precedent for the enclosure of these spaces across other terraces of a similar typology in Bath, although an advised approach is to utilise glazing or glazed doors to maintain a sense of transparency through what was previously an outdoor space. However, we note a discrepancy between the rectilinear shape of the proposed rear lightwell infill and the curved opening of the lightwell itself; it is unclear as to how the proposed infill would be shaped to fit the existing opening. We maintain where relevant, further updated drawings may be required to clarify this aspect of the scheme. We recommend that infills are set back from the opening, rather than sitting flush with the stonework, and where possible fixing points are restricted to mortar joints to best mitigate loss of historic fabric.