93B Sydney Mews, Bathwick, Bath
93B Sydney Mews forms part of a Grade II series of early 19th century terraced mews at 93-99 Sydney Mews, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The mews forms part of the ancillary, interconnected setting of the Grade I 93-103 Sydney Place, and originally served the main terrace of townhouses as utilitarian coach houses and stables. A number of the mews buildings have since been subdivided to provide two one-bay dwellings; 95 Sydney Mews has not been bisected and is an example of a two bay twin-gabled form likely representative of the neighbouring mews. This original form may also be reflected across the rear, more formalised elevation in views as part of the gardens setting of Sydney Place. This is difficult to establish as these elevations are not publicly visible, but the Heritage Statement also notes that “much of the rear wall [is] intact.” Therefore, it is indicated that 93B Sydney Mews originally formed part of a larger mews building with 93A and 93 Sydney Mews (although 93 Sydney Mews is architecturally dissimilar to the rest of the terrace and visually reads as more ‘domestic’). Greater value is therefore attributed to the relationship between 93A and 93B Sydney Mews as part of a historic whole, and the aesthetic connection that has been retained across their shared elevation through the use of matching ground and first floor treatments and traditional-style eight-over-eight timber sash windows.
There have been a number of unsympathetic alterations across the mews, including the addition of projecting bay windows at first floor level and the use of incongruous window types, such as the single glazed casement windows at 94A & 94B Sydney Mews. There are examples of balconies at first floor level to the west end of the terrace, but this section is unlisted and was constructed in the 1990s to replace the section of terrace lost to Blitz bombing.
Whilst the Heritage Statement asserts that “many of the properties and the front alterations have been altered significantly to accommodate either residential features and characteristics”, this is not elaborated on in relation to the existing traditional fenestration treatment of 93B Sydney Mews, which as existing appears to be sympathetic in scale, material, and detail.
We therefore oppose the proposed alterations which would be an incongruous and over-dominant addition to a listed building, out of keeping with its special interest as a modest, ancillary coach house structure. The proposed casement windows at first floor level are oversized and almost the same height as the proposed glazed doors at ground floor level, which consequently overbalances the building and its relationship with the wider terrace.
The proposed elevational treatment would be of a significantly different scale and design to the treatment of 93A Sydney Mews, and as a result would permanently divide 93B Sydney Mews from its historic and architectural context.
We maintain that the existing alterations across the terrace, such as the addition of bay windows at first floor level and the use of differing window sizes and designs, are not considered to serve as an acceptable precedent for further change. The existing changes have resulted in the erosion of the historic uniformity and coherency of the mews, and this application would consequently result in further, cumulative harm to the group value of the Grade II mews terrace.
The proposed volume of glazing on both the ground and first floor elevations is excessive. Should a more ‘domestic’ treatment be considered acceptable, we maintain that a more modest residential entrance should be considered in line with other, similar ground floor treatments along the mews. The suggestion that the existing treatment is non-historic does not justify further, substantial alterations to the appearance of the mews where this would constitute harm.
The use of traditional materials and detailing is strongly recommended to sustain the special architectural and historic interest of the listed building.
We do not consider that the less than substantial harm is appropriately outweighed by public benefit. 93B Sydney Mews is currently already in residential use and the proposed external alterations are therefore not demonstrably necessary to ensure the sustainable, ongoing use of the building.
This application would result in unjustified harm to the appearance of a listed building, the wider group value of the listed terrace, and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area. It is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should therefore be refused or withdrawn.