7 Gay Street, City Centre
7 Gay Street forms part of a Grade I mid-18th century terrace of townhouses, with several dwellings with commercial/office ground floors, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms the indicative setting of a high concentration of Grade I and Grade II segments of 18th century terrace up Gay Street. It remains a significant aspect of Bath’s monumental architecture and Georgian Town Planning OUV that provides direct views between the Grade I The Circus and the Grade I Queen Square. Significantly, the terrace’s rear elevation forms part of the indicative townscape setting of the Grade I Royal Victoria Park, a late Georgian example of a municipal park, and its pedestrian access via an original Georgian promenade known as the Gravel Walk. Mid-range views across the back of the terrace set back in its gardens are publicly visible, and reveal the varied backland character of this area of the conservation area defined by the architectural variety and narrative of change readable across the rear of its historic terraced townhouses. Nonetheless, whilst the significance of this view is in its diversity of forms, alterations, and additions that result in eclectic appearance, Gay Street remains homogenous in its continuous use of traditional material vernacular and detailing. The boundary treatment along Gravel Walk remains defined in its use of Bath stone ashlar with some limited modern insertions of metal railings and timber fencing.
There is insufficient detail in the application to enable the proper assessment and comparison of the existing building with the external alterations proposed and recommend that the necessary documents are submitted to the LPA.
We acknowledge that the existing window has been used to access the roof of the single storey early 20th flat roof extension. However, we ask for clarification regarding the current condition and structural suitability of the roof for regularised use as a terrace to ensure the site is appropriate for use.
Furthermore, there are some concerns regarding the proposed terrace access door design which has not been clarified. The Heritage Statement notes that the existing sash window would be retained and the cill dropped, whereas the proposed elevation shows what appears to be a new inserted door. We therefore encourage further details to be provided to clarify this aspect of the scheme, and emphasise that the use of a door in a position mid-way up the terrace’s rear elevation would be an inappropriate insertion in a façade defined by its use of fenestration. The retention of a sash window or sash window-style access would be more favourable, particularly considering the existing use of large sash windows as functional access to the early 19th century covered balcony.
In principle, the Trust is not opposed to contemporary additions to a listed building, although we maintain that the suitability of modern insertions should be determined on a case-by-case basis. However, we cannot support this proposal due to the incongruous addition of the proposed glazed balustrade to the rear elevation of a Grade I listed building. The balustrade design is not appropriately referenced or integrated within the building, and instead appears as a ‘stuck on’ element alien to the material and architectural qualities of Gay Street’s backland character and appearance. This application would propose the addition of a distinctly modern feature at second floor level and would result in a greater degree of visual discordance, rather than being more recessively positioned as an infill along the ground floor or lower ground floor.
The presence of balconies or terraces is limited along Gay Street’s rear, but we consider examples such as 7 Gay Street’s 19th century balcony should inform the proposed terrace’s boundary treatment. The apparent use of decorative wrought iron railings is more in keeping with the terrace’s retained traditional elevational treatment, whilst also maintaining a positive visual transparency. We therefore recommend that should the principle of conversion to an elevated terrace be deemed acceptable, the proposed design is amended to implement a more traditional, sympathetic treatment to mitigate visual harm.
Considering the relative southern aspect in relation to the long footprint of the rear extension and the consequent volume of glazing required, there is some concern regarding the potential that a glazed balustrade would result in increased light reflection and glare to the detriment of the appearance across the rear elevation of Gay Street.
The addition of a 2400mm (2.4m) timber boarding fence along the perimeter of the proposed terrace would be wholly inappropriate. Timber fencing is not sympathetic with typical examples of boundary treatment within Bath city centre, particularly along Gay Street, and its position mid-way up the terrace’s rear elevation would be further at odds with Bath’s established urban backland character and appearance and detract from the special architectural and historic interest of Grade I listed buildings.
In its current form, this application would harm the special historic and architectural interest of the Grade I listed building, and the wider backland appearance of the terrace of Gay Street, and would neither preserve nor enhance the appearance of the conservation area and the special qualities of the World Heritage Site. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Sections 4 and 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn and amended.