6 Park Lane, Lower Weston, Bath
6 Park Lane forms part of a Grade II listed pair of early 19th century terraced dwellings with 7 Park Lane, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. They form part of an architecturally varied stepped terrace running to the south, along the western boundary of the Grade I Royal Victoria Park. 6 Park Lane forms the grouped setting of a number of individually-Grade II listed dwellings along the terrace, including 8, 4-5, and 3 Park Lane. 6-7 Park Lane constitute a clearly distinguishable architectural match due to their shared, two bay form, shared step-down stone parapet and matching detailing around door and window reveals. The focus of this application is on the retained basement vaults which carry high evidential value as ancillary service space that served the domestic upper floors. The original coal hole cover at 7 Park Lane has been retained but has since been blocked up at 6 Park Lane; however internally, the original coal chute is retained as well as what is likely the original flagged floor. The rubble stone walls have already been painted and/or rendered, although what type of treatment has been used is not specified, and a significant volume of pipework has been installed along the vault roof. The space is current used for ancillary storage.
Whilst BPT does not typically comment on internal changes, we are concerned by the nature of the works proposed and the impact this will have on both the character of the basement and the health of the wider building as a whole.
Primarily, we strongly oppose the proposed installation of a Vandex damp-proofing system, which is a cementitious waterproofing slurry. In principle, we object to the use of chemical injection or cementitious tanking within historic buildings. These impermeable materials do not allow the permeable traditional building fabric to breath or moisture to pass through; thus, moisture is displaced or trapped and frequently this can lead to problems elsewhere. In addition, these approaches have a short life span and are known to fail over the passage of time, but can result in irreversible damage to historic fabric when removed.
From the proposed plans, it appears that the proposed damp-proofing layer would sit over the top of the retained coal chute and inappropriately cover up a significant historic feature with resulting harm to a listed building.
There is no further information relating to any existing damp or water ingress issues within the basement to justify the proposed extent of works. We additionally highlight that the nature of the existing wall treatment is not understood; should this be cementitious or acrylic-based, this may be responsible for any damp issues currently being experienced. We therefore maintain that this application does not appropriately demonstrate public benefit to outweigh the substantial harm to the architectural and historic interest of a listed building. We strongly recommend that the existing wall treatment is appropriately investigated to better determine the existing condition of the vaults and underlying stonework, and consequently which interventions may be considered justifiable.
The applicant has specified that “the intention of this application is not to form additional habitable spaces”, but we have some concerns regarding the proposed works “to provide a usable living area’. We continue to emphasise the unsuitability of vaults for residential use. Due to typically damp conditions and poor air quality as part of their subterranean character, vaults are better suited to ancillary facilities or storage space; the use of vaults for a directly domestic function would not be suitable, either for the comfort of human usage or the alteration of historic fabric to meet modern standards of utility. Residential use (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.) would place the vaults under increased pressure to meet increased standards of ventilation and dryness that would compromise historic fabric and character.
We do not feel that the proposed dropping of the basement floor has been appropriately detailed or justified. A drop in 200mm would significantly disturb historic fabric and possible historic foundations or archaeological deposits beneath the Georgian/Regency layer of the building.
In its current form this application proposes inappropriate material alterations to a historic building without adequate justification contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas), Section 16 of the NPPF, and Polices B1, BD1, B4 CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should therefore be refused or withdrawn.