42 Milsom Street, City Centre, Bath
42 Milsom Street forms part of a Grade II* late 18th century group of terraced dwellings, historically adapted to alternative commercial and retail uses, at 37-42 Milsom Street, also known collectively as Somersetshsire Buildings. It is situated within the commercial core of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the setting of a high concentration of Grade II and Grade II* terraced buildings along the historic thoroughfare of Milsom Street, representative of large-scale Georgian town planning with the creation of intentional sightlines into the city centre. No. 42 is indicated to have been in use as a bank from around 1890, during which significant internal refurbishment works were undertaken, and has been in use as such up until around 2016. The existing ground floor arcade frontage is attributed to the late 19th century, and may have also formed part of the refurbishment works as part of its conversion to bank usage.
The building features as a significant aspect of the terraced retail streetscape along a key historic route, which has been vacant from around 2016 onwards. We therefore strongly support proposals in principle which would see the building in its entirety brought back into use, with associated benefits including the reactivation of the streetscape, enhancements to the shopfront appearance of a listed building, securing a sustainable use for the building and associated much-needed maintenance going forwards, and general contributions to the economic activity and growth of the Bath city centre.
We question the scale of development at roof level, to include the installation of a roof deck within the main roof valley, to support a new M&E plant. The roof deck would be of a considerable height, positioned just below the ridge height of the adjacent pitches, and as such the proposed plant equipment would be level with, and in some cases exceed the height of, the historic chimney stacks. As currently proposed, the interventions at roof level would be of detriment to the appearance of a listed building, and would result in harm to the building’s roofscape contribution to the wider setting of the conservation area and World Heritage Site. At this stage, there is insufficient justification as to why the roof deck needs to be at this height, and whether the deck could be brought down to better integrate the plant equipment within, rather than on top of, the roof valley. The scale of works seems disproportionate to the refurbishment of the existing building.
We have further concerns regarding the proposed degree of loss of historic fabric at basement level to facilitate the creation of ancillary kitchen services. The focus of fabric loss would be the north and south walls from the central storage room; whilst the southern wall is indicated to be a pre-1970s 20th century addition, the north wall is made up of a mixture of Georgian and Victorian fabric. The creation of new doorways and access points throughout the basement, as well as the proposed door access into Milsom Place, is also indicated to result in the further loss of identified Georgian fabric. It has not been sufficiently indicated that alternative options for the layout and circulation at basement level have been considered to facilitate the maximum retention of historic fabric, and by association the original, evidential plan form and layout of the space. We strongly recommend that proposals at basement level are therefore reconsidered in relation to how the usability of the space may be more proportionately weighed against the degree of harm to a Grade II* building.