Arch 5-6, Old Twerton Station Railway Arches East, Lower Bristol Road, Twerton
This application concerns Arches 5-6 of the Grade II early Victorian Twerton Viaduct, and is adjacent to the Grade II Old Station House contemporary to the Viaduct, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site.
The Trust is supportive of the principle of the change of use of the site to facilitate a more active re-use of an otherwise neglected and deteriorating space. We feel that the associated external changes will improve the appearance of a Grade II listed heritage asset with a prominent visual presence within the Lower Bristol Road streetscape. The current treatment of the arches has resulted in a dilapidated, unfriendly appearance; the proposed insertion of hardwood doors in a neutral colour would therefore be a marked improvement.
We would, however, recommend the use of hand-painted lettering rather than applied vinyl letters to better adhere to the cohesive use of traditional signage and shopfront character and appearance throughout the conservation area and World Heritage site. We would additionally query the necessity of the volume of signage across all four doors, and would recommend that any applied signage is restricted to either the central doors or flanking timber frame façade panels to minimise the overcluttering aesthetic effect on the overall appearance of a listed structure.
We would further note the poor condition of the stonework, the repair of which we recognise falls within the jurisdiction of Network Rail, and we would emphasise the urgency of immediate stonework repairs to prevent further, irreversible damage to historic fabric.
However, we maintain some concerns with regards to the proposed internal ventilation of the arches, of which there has been no information supplied. The arches are likely to be susceptible to damp due to their construction from porous Bath stone, a condition frequently exacerbated by the installation or failure of inappropriate waterproofing treatments. We would therefore strongly recommend that the existing internal condition of the arches is recorded for the benefit of the LPA; we note that an application for the internal lining of the arches with a corrugated plastic sheeting was consented in 2013 (13/02491/LBA), but there is no record of this having been implemented. Any further details regarding possible external vents or grilles should additionally be provided for agreement with the LPA.
We would further encourage that should the arches have been previously waterproofed utilising unsuitable, impermeable methods, that associated removals or remedial works are included as part of this application to prevent any further deterioration of historic fabric. Proposed methods of waterproofing and ventilation should also be included before this application can progress further, to ensure the proposed reuse of the arches would not be of detriment to the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building. We trust that officers will ensure the appropriate approach to these arches.
Ultimately, we understand Twerton Viaduct may be on the Council's Building At Risk Register and further note the poor condition of stonework which as yet still does not appear to have been addressed by Network Rail. We emphasise the urgency of immediate stonework repairs and ask the Council what progress they have made with NR on agreeing appropriate repairs to the stonework on this important listed viaduct.