Broadview, 83 – 84 Gloucester Road, Lower Swainswick, Bath
83-84 Gloucester Road is a pair of Grade II early 19th century houses, formerly part of George’s Buildings, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The pair of houses was in use as The Bladud Arms public house by the late 19th century up until planning permission was granted for change of use to a single dwelling in 2000. Whilst set up against the roadside, the building retains a strong north-south façade treatment indicative of the original, stepped position of the George’s Buildings terrace down the slope to the west.
It is proposed to replace the existing stone slabs in the courtyard adjacent to Gloucester Road with tiling to address ongoing damp issues. From the photos provided, it appears that the courtyard is currently finished in a pennant stone, a traditional hard surfacing used throughout Bath in the 19th century. As such, it remains materially and aesthetically in keeping with the building’s original design and material construction, as well as the wider character and appearance of the conservation area.
The use of a tiled floor treatment is therefore more Victorian in character and would therefore be inappropriate within this context. We recommend that the existing slabs are retained and re-laid as to enable more efficient drainage, or where they are found to be in a poor condition suitably replaced in a like-for-like style.
Blind/ “Infill” Window:
It is proposed to “install new sash window to master bedroom in place of stone infill” in the north-east elevation. However, the application fails to clarify as to whether the window is a historic blind window, or whether it has been filled in at a later date. As existing, the blind window is located at the junction of the internal partition wall between the two bedrooms at second floor level, but similarly it is unclear as to whether the internal partition is of a traditional or historic construction, from which the origins of the blind window could be extrapolated.
BPT is typically resistant to the unblocking of blind windows where these form part of the original design of the building or are indicative of historic layout and plan form. In instances where the blocking up of a window forms a significant part of the building’s historic and evidential narrative, it may be desirable to retain the window as a material indicator of the “narrative of change”. We therefore recommend that further information is provided, such as photographs or plans, to better assess the significance of the blocked window, and consequently justify reopening works.
Where the benefits of opening up works are considered to outweigh potential heritage harm, the proposed replacement window should match existing windows with regards to fenestration design, thickness, and profile.
The existing render on the uppermost floor of the south-east elevation is in a poor condition with cracking and staining evident in views from pavement level. It is therefore proposed to infill cracks and paint over the extent of the rendered area in a limewash.
BPT is supportive of the opportunity for remedial works to what appears to be a failing render system which would have the dual benefits of enhancing the appearance of a listed building and also serving to prevent issues such as water ingress and associated deterioration of historic fabric.
However, there are a number of unanswered questions relating to this aspect of the scheme. It is unclear as to the materiality of the existing render system; based on ongoing cracking issues, it seems that it could be a cementitious-based system, which is notoriously incompatible with soft or porous building materials such as Bath stone. Furthermore, there is insufficient information regarding why this render was applied in the first place and the possible condition of the underlying stonework; based on photographs from 1982, it seems that the render may have been applied as part of the signage for The Bladud Arms.
BPT therefore strongly recommends that where possible, the removal of this render would be preferable to ongoing partial repairs over the top. Should the render be a cementitious mix, this will continue to impede the building’s ability to ‘breathe’ and could cause/exacerbate issues with damp or water ingress. Removal of the render would also allow for the inspection of the underlying stone and any repairs where required. We encourage regular maintenance and repairs, following the ‘stitch in time’ principle, to ensure that smaller issues are not allowed to progressively worsen or result in greater harm to historic fabric.