7 Caroline Buildings, Widcombe, Bath
7 Caroline Buildings forms part of a Grade II early 19th century residential terrace situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms an elevated, three storey elevation in Bath stone ashlar to the roadside with an elevated pavement, and backs onto the Kennet & Avon Canal towpath to the south-east. Whilst high significance is typically attributed to the principal elevation, the rear elevation of the terrace as a whole is of note due to its visibility in mid-range views from the east, including views from Abbey View Gardens across the canal and sloping allotment gardens. From this perspective, Caroline Buildings positively contributes to roofscape views across the Dolemeads towards the city centre and is indicative of the established pattern and grain of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site.
In the light of the declared Climate Emergency, BPT is generally supportive of retrofit measures that protect elements that contribute to the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building. Alterations are expected to be visually coherent with the character of the building, and the wider shared character of the listed terrace and surrounding conservation area.
We are generally supportive of the installation of PV panels where this would not significantly compromise historic fabric or the distinctive character and appearance of the historic environment. However, we have some concerns regarding the visual impact on townscape views and the terraced roofscape character of the area, due to proposals to mount PV panels on the external southern roof slope. Therefore, we strongly recommend that further design details of the proposed panels are submitted as part of this application to ensure a non-intrusive appearance and finish in accordance with Policy SCR2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. We suggest that PV panels should be monochrome with a matt finish to minimise reflectivity and associated sun glare, and should sit as flush with the roof slope as possible. Where possible, consideration of how the scheme would fit into wider contextual views and possible key viewpoints is encouraged.
BPT welcomes the opportunity for the installation of slimlite double glazing where this is compatible with the special interest of a listed building whilst suitably minimising harm to historic fabric.
Where harm to or loss of historic fabric is proposed, this should be appropriately outweighed by public benefit.
The Heritage Statement notes that the existing windows are single pane Victorian sash windows; whilst not original to the building’s construction or 18th century significance, these are a historic addition of lesser significance that contribute towards a ‘narrative of change’. Their replacement with modern slimlite double glazing would therefore constitute less than substantial harm. However, this should be considered against the benefits of the installation of thermally efficient glazing, improving the thermal performance of the building, ensuring its long-term sustainable use, and reducing its carbon emissions.
However, there is currently insufficient information as part of this application to determine the suitability of the proposed slimlite glazing. We maintain that existing and proposed window sections are required to appropriately assess the degree of change and the potential impact to the appearance and character of a listed building. Further details are required regarding the proposed glazing thickness, glazing bar profile and thickness, and sash fenestration.
We consider this to be a positive opportunity to reinstate a traditional 6-over-6 sash window profile and reinforce the group value and shared interest of the Grade II terrace. We feel this would constitute a heritage gain that would serve to outweigh the identified harm to historic fabric.
BPT is very interested in working with the applicant to reach an acceptable solution.
BPT does not normally comment on internal alterations without the benefit of a site visit. However, we have some concerns regarding the proposed works to convert the basement into a “family room” and the resulting impact to historic fabric. The basement was likely the original location of service spaces such as the kitchen, as indicated by the large fireplace. Whilst we are generally resistant to the residential conversion of historic vaults and cellars, we acknowledge that this space likely served a more immediately residential function. Nonetheless, we have some concerns regarding the intrusive use of a “Newlath drained cavity tanking system” to manage damp ingress and how this would intersect with the historic stonework, an amount of which appears to be exposed, or historic features of interest such as the fireplace. We strongly recommend further material specifications are submitted on this aspect of the scheme and express a strong preference for damp management methods that work with the ‘breathable’ qualities of the Bath stone.
We maintain that the residential use of this space would not set a welcome precedent for the similar conversion or residential treatment of the adjoining vaults, which are ill-suited to meet modern standards of living without materially invasive or harmful alteration.