Clarkson House, 5 Great Stanhope Street, Kingsmead, Bath
Clarkson House is an unlisted 1980s residential block located with the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is a late 20th century replica of a pre-existing war-damaged Georgian property and is therefore of little historic significance. However, it remains a prominent, four storey façade within the streetscape, and forms the setting for a high concentration of Grade II late 18th century terraced townhouses along Great Stanhope Street and New King Street. Whilst aspects of its form and articulation, such as the visible height and pitch of the roof profile from street level, mark it out as a later addition, the building was originally constructed to mirror the traditional materiality, form, and balance of the terraced streetscape. Its current value is therefore derived from its material consistency with a Bath stone ashlar frontage and detailing such as traditional-effect rainwater goods and timber 6-over-6 sash windows. Despite its significant scale, it remains fairly inconspicuous due to its sympathetic elevational treatment and conformity to the established architectural style of the streetscape. Consequently, any further alteration to the frontage would need to be sensitive and thoughtful, in a materiality and design that would complement its context.
BPT originally supported application 19/04196/FUL for the installation of timber sash slimlite glazing across the principal street-facing elevation. We maintained “the significance of retaining traditional features such as timber sash windows to remain consistent within the local vernacular setting.” We originally appreciated the need for energy efficiency retrofits to ensure the comfortable use of the building, whilst highlighting that a traditional approach would sit more comfortably within this area of the conservation area.
In principle, BPT is unable to support the installation of uPVC windows due to the consequent detriment to the aesthetic and material character the Bath conservation area. The replacement of the existing timber sash windows with uPVC in this volume across a façade of significant scale and massing would have a substantially negative impact on the streetscape, and establish an unwelcome precedent for this type of materiality within the conservation area.
Permission has previously been granted for uPVC windows across the rear elevation which were then fitted by October 2021. The D&A Statement argues that “it is recognised that the location of those replacement windows was to the rear elevation meaning that they are not visible from the street, but they are nevertheless within the Conservation Area and in the setting of the Grade II listed Monmouth House…” This does not appropriately consider that windows across the rear are of highly restricted public visibility and therefore limited visual harm to the conservation area; simply because these concealed uPVC windows are already in the conservation area, this does not justify their use across the principal elevation, which would result in a far more significant degree of visual harm.
We maintain that we do not oppose window upgrades in this building. However, considering its intentional Georgian aesthetic in form, design, and detailing, as well as its sensitive location within the conservation area and setting of multiple listed buildings, alterations should be consistent with local character and material vernacular to preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the area.
There is extant permission for timber-framed slimlite glazing which would be a much more appropriate retrofit option within this location. We therefore highlight that this is considered a material planning consideration, demonstrating that more sympathetic options with the same level of public benefit are available. Emphasis is placed on the thermal and acoustic benefits of the proposed uPVC units over the existing single glazed timber windows, but this does not fully account for what added benefit uPVC would have over alternative options that have been already considered more materially and aesthetically appropriate. There has been no explanation as to why this extant planning permission cannot be acted upon.
This application would not preserve or enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area and would be of harm to the setting of multiple Grade II heritage assets, and 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 be refused or withdrawn.