Eastern House, Beechen Cliff Road, Bear Flat, Bath
Eastern House is a Grade II early 19th century end-of-terrace residential building, situated within the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. The building forms part of a clustered group of Grade II early 19th century dwellings that, whilst contemporary to one another, form an architecturally varied mix of villa-style and terraced buildings to a streetscape that has been further subject to incremental 19th and 20th century development.
The focus of the proposed works is the section of boundary wall and arched garden access to the south-western end of the site, which forms the visual ‘stopping point’ at the end of Beechen Cliff Road. The boundary wall as existing is indicated to be an early 1990s addition and therefore of no historic significance, though it appears that the existing route into the garden follows the earlier 19th century route of the garden path based on historic map progressions.
The boundary wall has visual significance by reinforcing the established use of high stone boundary walls within the conservation area; the Bear Flat & Oldfield Park Character Appraisal makes specific reference to boundary walls as assets within the conservation area: “Strong boundary walls enclosing properties are widespread and particularly valuable.” The Appraisal goes on to identify “the risk of changes to strong boundary walls and entrances to accommodate or enlarge vehicular access and off-street parking. The impact on the setting of a building or its curtilage and on the character of the street is more often than not adverse. This applies not only to formal terraces such as Devonshire Buildings but to most streets in the character area.”
Proposed demolition would therefore result in the loss of the majority of this section of boundary wall, and the associated loss of its contribution towards the overall character and appearance of the conservation area.
Where there are acknowledged benefits, such as the proposed creation of an off-street parking space to ease parking pressures and associated congestion on this narrow street, as well as the provision of an EV charging point, this should be appropriately assessed against the wall’s existing appearance and contribution to the character of its contextual setting. Recognising that in the decision making process any degree of harm needs to be weighed against any demonstrable public benefit.
Should the principle be accepted by the LPA, it is recommended that further details are provided in relation to the proposed driveway gates and new garden access door; it is unclear as to whether these would be painted, or a natural timber finish would be utilised. The use of a subdued colour or naturally weathering timber would be preferable where this would be more complementary to the established Bath stone palette of the area.