5-7 New Street, City Centre
5-7 New Street are a short terrace of late 19th century buildings situated within the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. They adjoin 1-4 New Street, a Grade II 1830s terrace to which 5-7 New Street is a later extension. Whilst delisted in 2019, it forms part of Kingsmead Square, a distinctive courtyard space dating to as early as 1735 with high pedestrian footfall and the setting of numerous Grade II Georgian terraced houses, now with commercial ground floors. Any planning proposals should therefore be considered with regards to possible impact to the established character and appearance of the conservation area.
The Trust does not oppose the use of the building’s upper floors to provide high-demand residential housing within the city centre.
However, we are unable to support this application in its current iteration, due to its inappropriate use of timber cladding within an ‘inner city’ context. Bath’s urban core has a distinctive local vernacular in which the use of timber would be an incoherent insertion that would not relate visually or architecturally within its historic context. The Trust maintains that the use of timber cladding is better suited within rural or green settings due to its soft, natural finish, colouring, and weathering. This application in its current form would therefore pose an unwelcome precedent for the introduction of timber cladding into the core of the Bath conservation area and WHS with resulting harm to the established material, architectural, and aesthetic character of the city. We would strongly recommend that this application considers other possible material palettes that would better incorporate and complement the character of its setting.
Furthermore, the extension as proposed has an awkward intersection over the roof eaves line of 6-7 New Street. We feel that the proposed extension would sit more comfortably as a recessive, backland addition either in line with or below the established roof eaves and reduce the visual impact of the proposed extension, rather than visually competing with the host building’s existing roof profile.
We maintain some concerns regarding the treatment of the frontage, in particular proposals for the repainting of the Silcox Son & Wicks sign as referenced in historic photographs. We would query whether this sign was actually handpainted, or the letters mounted on the stonework on brackets, and would ask for more information regarding this aspect of the scheme before the application can progress further. We would additionally highlight the General Design Guidance published by B&NES Council regarding External Commercial Signage, in which it is considered inappropriate to fix/paint signage above the first floor sill level due to the character of Bath’s shop frontages and signage being largely restrained to the ground floor. Considering the suggested continued use of the ground floor by the Silcox Son & Wicks business, the sign therefore does not constitute a ‘ghost sign’ as defined as an obsolete sign telling a story of past activities within Bath, and therefore would constitute an advertisement.
In its current form, this application would not conserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area; the introduction of extensive timber cladding within the heart of the city would be of aesthetic and architectural detriment to the setting of numerous listed buildings and 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 B4, BD1, D1, D2, D3, D5, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and we would strongly recommend this application to be withdrawn.