53 Church Road, Combe Down, Bath
53 Church Road forms part of an unlisted early 20th century terrace of dwellings situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The terrace is modest in scale at two storeys and faced in Bath stone ashlar, set back from the roadside in generous strip garden plots. It retains a strong symmetrical emphasis in the repeating placement of ground floor bay windows and pitched porch overhangs; whilst a number of the windows have been replaced with uPVC, the original or replica timber doors have been retained. The Combe Down character appraisal notes that “solid late Victorian and Edwardian housing forms a pleasing feature through most of the Character Area, many with timber framed sashes, original panelled front doors, chequer-tiled paths and low stone garden walls topped by railings.” Examples of terraced housing along Church Road on the junction to Rock Lane are specifically referenced as unlisted buildings of merit within the conservation area; consequently 53 Church Road and its terraced neighbours can be considered to be Non-Designated Heritage Assets (NDHAs) of local interest to the appearance and character of the area.
The built character of the area is generally defined as medium-to-low density with areas of green intervention through generously-sized gardens; the character of Church Road is spacious and overlooks the rear gardens of the dwellings along Summer Lane, but the prevalent character remains of relatively close-grained terraced dwellings and solid boundary treatments in a mix of ashlar and coursed rubble stone.
BPT is unable to support the principle of timber cladding within this built up, urban context. Bath’s urban streetscapes have 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. We maintain 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 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.
We have further strong concerns regarding the proposed form and massing of the proposed two-storey side extension, and its relationship with the host property.
The extension as proposed lacks adequate design or scale reference to the main dwelling with regard to the established floor level or elevational articulation across the terrace. As a result, the extension constitutes a jarring addition to the terrace in sharp contrast with its established rhythm and balanced form. The proposed two storeys of the extension are awkwardly squeezed into an area of 1 ½ storey height, resulting in the roof of the extension puncturing the first floor string course and sitting at a height at odds with the shared ground floor level across the terrace.
The proposed scale of the mezzanine study window is too large and fails to respond to the scale and layout of window openings across the host property, resulting in an extension which feels unbalanced and top heavy.
In streetscape views from Church Road, the side elevation of the property remains visually exposed as part of the end elevation of the terrace. Consequently, the proposed north and north-western extension elevations would be clearly visible running all the way to the property rear and form a significant built intervention in views of the terrace. This would therefore exacerbate the perceived harm to the NDHA and its contribution to the wider character of the conservation area.
As proposed, this scheme would not preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area and would constitute harm to a NDHA, and is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies CP6, B1, D1, D2, D3, D5, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should therefore be refused or withdrawn.