9 Chapel Row, City Centre, Bath
9 Chapel Row forms part of a section of Grade II early 18th century terraced buildings at 7-9 Chapel Row, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the terraced setting of a high number of Grade II early and late 18th century buildings along Chapel Row and Monmouth Street. It additionally forms part of a significant approach onto the Grade I early 18th century setpiece of Queen Square. 9 Chapel Row is located within the Bath Central Area and forms part of a localised street of retail/commercial/food and drink premises with direct connections into the commercial city centre via Queen Square and Monmouth Street. This street is indicated to have been in commercial use by the late 19th century at the latest, with 9 Chapel Row marked as a tailor’s in the 1887-1902 Goad Insurance Plans.
It is therefore regrettable that this scheme does not appear to have considered the retention and enhancement of the existing ground floor unit, currently indicated to be Use B1 Class E(g) (office). In accordance with Policy CP12 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, “uses which contribute to maintaining the vitality, viability and diversity of centres within the hierarchy will be encouraged. Active ground floor uses will be maintained and enhanced.” Change of use of the ground floor to residential use would therefore no longer result in an active ground floor use to the detriment of the character and appearance of Bath’s retail centre. Whilst it is recognised that the existing office use is not necessarily ‘active’ in the sense of being publicly accessible, residential use would permanently preclude the commercial or retail use of the ground floor.
This application has not provided adequate evidence to show that retail use is not viable on this plot (eg. the unit has been unsuccessfully marketed for at least 6 months). Whilst the principle of residential use is acceptable across the under-used upper floors, we therefore strongly emphasise consideration of a mixed-use model in which the active retail use of the ground floor is retained with benefit to the sustained character and appearance of the conservation area.
We note that it is proposed to partially open up the blocked windows in the lower ground floor to enable natural light to enter from pavement level. The proposed windows would be single pane fixed 12mm double glazed lights. However, the existing window openings are indicated to extend below pavement level of an adequate height to accommodate a sash window; similar examples are seen at 2 and 3 Chapel Place and are seen elsewhere in Bath. Whilst there are examples of this type of intervention within the vicinity (see 11 Chapel Row), we therefore consider that there is an opportunity to reinstate a more traditional window form with benefit to the integrity and appearance of the listed building, as well as residential amenity gains through improved passive ventilation.
We have some concerns regarding the proposed removal of stonework at rear lower ground floor to connect the new extension with the living room, resulting in the likely loss of original historic stonework from the external elevation. Further assessment is therefore encouraged as to the impact of the new doors on historic fabric, to be appropriately weighed against demonstrated public benefit.
We additionally recommend further information is provided regarding the interaction of the proposed extension with the adjoining boundary wall to the east and the rear elevation of 10 Chapel Row to the west. It is unclear as to whether construction would require any fixings into adjacent stonework or how the development may affect access for maintenance to existing structures.