Internal alterations to include removal of concertina doors on third floor, installation of two cupboards on first floor to house shower and vanity unit, and creation of separate self-contained flat…
98 Sydney Place forms part of a Grade I series of eleven terraced townhouses at 93a-103 Sydney Place, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The terrace was constructed in 1808-1809, designed by John Pinch the Elder, and form part of the unfinished vision of Sir William Johnstone Pulteney for the residential setting of Sydney Gardens, flanking the junction to Great Pulteney Street. The terrace is noted for its uniform, palatial façade punctuated with three pavilion-esque dwellings set forward at each end and at the terrace centre. Unusually, the attic storey is included as a separate storey within the body of the building, rather than being set back into the mansard slope. 93-103 Sydney Place forms the last section of terrace to be built surrounding Sydney Gardens and is consequently a significant indicator of an unfinished, speculative plan for the further expansion of Georgian Bath to the east and forms part of the Georgian Town Planning and Georgian Architecture OUV of the World Heritage Site.
It is indicated that 98 Sydney Place has been subsequently subdivided into apartments from the late 20th century, which is indicative of the similar treatment of other Grade I townhouses along Sydney Place where the original townhouse plan form has been interrupted or eroded by later interventions. The front basement vault has remained in office use, and the rear half of the lower ground floor is in use as bedrooms as part of ‘Flat 2’ across the ground and lower ground floors.
BPT appreciates that the front basement vaults have already undergone conversion for more intensive human occupation and use as an office. However, we have strong concerns regarding the proposed conversion of the space as a self-contained apartment, and the resulting pressures on the vaults as existing to achieve higher standards of residential comfort, contrary to the typical characteristics of historic vaults and basements in Bath.
As part of application 08/02080/LBA, consented works included the conversion of the western vault to a wet room with associated damp-proofing works, and the removal of tanking and concrete screed from the ‘kitchen’ and ‘office’ vaults. However, the current condition of the vaults is unclear and has not been documented or assessed as part of this application. We maintain that vaults are naturally damp and dark in character and do not meet modern standards of living (dry, adequate natural lighting and ventilation, etc) as may be required in an immediately residential context, eg. bedroom. We therefore have concerns that the proposed residential use would result in increasing pressures for future alterations to the vaults, such as damp-proofing measures, to meet modern residential standards with resulting harm to the traditional character and appearance of a listed building.
The conversion of the office to a bedroom would additionally place greater pressure on the attached, unaltered vault to be used for an extension of residential use. This retains significance as the only unaltered vault on the site, thereby retaining its characteristics and materiality with limited interventions. We therefore maintain that the residential use of the existing ‘kitchen’ and ‘office’ vaults would not justify the future conversion or alteration of the adjoining vault. Damp proofing measures which would obscure or damage historic fabric would not be considered appropriate.
Should the principle of residential conversion be considered acceptable, we maintain that this would not be considered appropriate justification for further invasive works to manage damp or poor ventilation. It is emphasised that vaults are naturally damp and musty spaces that were not originally intended for residential use, rather ancillary and storage functions to serve the main house. These spaces are therefore not well-suited to residential use, and this should be understood by the applicant as part of proposals.