Basement Flat 4, 11 Queen’s Parade, City Centre, Bath
11 Queen’s Parade forms part of a Grade II late 18th century residential terrace by John Wood the Younger, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. It closely adjoins the south-eastern access to the Grade I Royal Victoria Park, as well as forming part of the contextual streetscape of the high concentration of Grade I early 18th century townhouses at Queen Square by John Wood the Elder.
The terrace is made up of a unified frontage of two-bay townhouses in Bath stone ashlar. This symmetry has been somewhat unbalanced by the addition of projecting Bath stone porches of varying heights that serve as the principal access into each townhouse. These are likely attributed to later 19th century interventions as evidenced by the mix of single and three-storey porches across the terraces as well as the “original door and doorcase” (Historic England) retained at 1 Queen’s Parade. 11 Queen’s Parade is located to the far south-western end of the terrace; similarly, it retains indicators of the original terrace façade due to its lack of street-facing porch and a traditional-style doorcase similar to that at 1 Queen’s Parade. Whilst the designed homogeneity of the terrace has been notably affected by later additions, positive features that enhance the terrace’s shared group value include the predominant (albeit not complete) retention of historic detailing such as 6-over-6 timber sash windows, a generous pennant pavement which sets the terrace back from the road, and the continued presence of lightwells and wrought iron railings that allow for external access to the lower ground floor level and pavement vaults.
The shared rear elevation of the terrace is of limited view from public vantage points such as the vehicular access to Charlotte Street car park, and Victoria Park, although these views are largely screened with a mature mix of public and private planting.
BPT has some concerns regarding the proposed impact of works on the lower ground floor vaults, indicated in the plans to be a former wine and coal/meat cellar.
We are supportive of repairs to address previous, harmful interventions, such as the proposed removal of the waterproof cement slurry from vault R006 and its associated “light-well opening”. This allows for the historic stonework to ‘breathe’ whilst uncovering areas of damaged stonework where proportionate repairs/repointing are encouraged to ensure that the vaults remain materially and structurally sound.
The Heritage Statement indicates that vault R005 is already dry-lined and plastered; however, there is no indication of listed building consent having been previously granted for these works which would have a notable impact on the appearance and character of the historic vaults. It is possible that these works occurred as part of the 1987 scheme to convert the building into flats (see Bath Record Office ref. BC/8/6/8/Q/52/LB-13855-1); however, until this is appropriately demonstrated as part of this application, it is assumed that these works are unauthorised and therefore should be considered as part of the proposals. We feel that as yet there is insufficient material information regarding the type of dry-lining used; we further maintain that this intervention would be overly intrusive and of detriment to the appearance and character of the vaults and should therefore be required to be removed in favour of more sympathetic alternatives.
In principle, BPT is resistant to the intensified residential use of historic vaults and cellar spaces due to the harmful impact on historic fabric and character, and the increased pressure this places on vaults to meet appropriate standards of light and ventilation, something that historic vaults are not designed to do and therefore requires more invasive alterations. We maintain that vaults are typically areas where limited interventions or alterations have been made, and are therefore spaces of high historic and evidential value to the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building and the wider architectural characteristics of Bath’s Georgian core. Typically, these would have been used as ancillary spaces to the main house, and therefore similarly ancillary uses such as storage and a utility are considered acceptable, although this remains dependent on the impact of historic fabric through the potential fitting of new services, etc.
The existing and likely unauthorised dry-lining works to vault R005 are not considered an acceptable justification for proposed conversion to a bathroom, and the resulting increased pressure on a poorly ventilated subterranean space to cope with higher levels of humidity and dampness. We do not consider that this impact has been adequately assessed as part of this application.
We have further concerns regarding the proposed widening of the lower ground floor lightwell to enable the fitting of a new timber casement window and “create adequate ventilation for bedroom 3 (R006) to become a habitable room.” The Heritage Statement makes limited reference to this lightwell but summarises that it is “historically likely a chute to the store” associated with the vault’s original use for storing coal. The proposed widening works and fitting of a window would therefore significantly alter a feature of historic interest and erode its legibility as part of the original use of the vaults, and would not be outweighed by public benefit. The insertion of a window would overly domesticate a historic service area, and is indicative of the increased pressure on the vaults to meet modern living standards of light and ventilation. Further assessment of this chute should therefore be included as part of this application to better illustrate its significance and how this would be impacted by the proposed works.