Flat 1, 2 Wellsway, Bath
This application relates to 2-6 Wellsway and 138 Wells Road, a 1960s building situated on a busy corner site within the residential Bear Flat region of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. Prior to Blitz damage, the site was occupied by the Bear Brewery building with its distinctive clockface and tower, which has therefore established a historic precedent for this corner site to be a distinctive focal point within the streetscape to positively retain and contribute towards local distinctiveness and character.
The Trust previously offered comments in response to pre-application consultation in February 2020. We are surprised that no changes appear to have been made between the pre-application drawings and the final application. We therefore maintain the validity of our previous comments, and emphasise that we cannot support this application due to the overbearing, unmitigated massing and height of the proposed roof extension and associated harm to the conservation area, a lack of coherency in the elevation design and use of materials. We have an objection, in principle, to the provision of student housing on this site. There is no evidence of future demand in a market that was already oversupplied before the Covid-19 Pandemic put a question mark over the whole sector.
We accept the addition of an additional attic storey in principle; however, we maintain that the combined height and massing of the proposed approach is too high and over-dominating, and detrimental to local townscape character. We previously suggested that the visual impact of the extension could be mitigated by recessing the extension and increasing the parapet height, which would additionally complement historic roof detailing seen along Wellsway. We continue to suggest using materials more appropriate to the roofscape of the area, such as a slate mansard, particularly considering the extension’s proposed visibility in longer views from Wells Road and Wellsway.
We feel that the roof extension lacks traditional articulation and proportion, with the attic windows being overly large, resulting in a top-heavy and unbalanced appearance. The misalignment of the proposed attic windows with the existing windows has resulted in a discordant, jarring appearance across the central bow of the building. The extension is therefore incoherent in design and fails to respond to the building’s established appearance and centralised symmetry on the recessed corner elevation.
Whilst we do not oppose the first and second-storey infill on Wells Road, we continue to question the extension of the mansard roof into the lower storeys which sharply contrasts with the material and colour of the flanking masonry wall. We would still encourage the use of an alternative material in a colour which complements the Bath stone palette within the infill to delineate better between the body and roof profile of the building, and respond to the terraced slope down Wells Road.
The historic and topographical significance of the corner site offers an opportunity for contemporary development to form a well-articulated focal point of distinctive aesthetic and architectural merit within the Bear Flat character area, which this application fails to successfully embrace.
We are opposed to the change of use from C3 residential use to ‘sui generis’ student accommodation, and do not feel that this application has provided suitable justification for this proposal. We are surprised that the current Covid-19 situation and its predicted impact on future student numbers in Bath has not been considered in relation to the scheme’s appropriateness and viability. Furthermore, we have significant concerns about the future reversibility or adaptability of the scheme to cater for local housing needs. Therefore, this application does not offer “demonstrable and substantial economic, social or environmental benefits” which would outweigh the harm of the loss of six city-centre C3 residential flats, and is consequently contrary to Policy H5 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan.
We maintain that this site should be used to provide mixed-use, affordable housing to address local demand.
This proposal will neither preserve nor enhance the distinctive streetscape character within this region of the conservation area, and will result in an unjustified loss of C3 residential accommodation, and is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act) 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, DW1, D1, D2, D5, D7, HE1, H2, and H5 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should therefore be withdrawn or refused.