Flat 5 Ground Floor, 14 Royal Crescent, City Centre, Bath
14 Royal Crescent forms part of a Grade I mid- to late-18th century terraced crescent situated within the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site, overlooking the Grade I Victoria Park. The Royal Crescent is one of Bath’s most significant surviving examples of monumental, grand design, intended as a key visual landmark within the city, and Georgian innovation in town planning, fundamental aspects of the OUV of the World Heritage Site. Both 13 and 14 Royal Crescent have been internally converted into flats from the 1960s. Currently on the site of the proposed extension is a modest, single storey laundry extension of little architectural or historic interest, likely attributed to the mid-20th century to replace a former glazed structure on the site. Historic map progressions appear to show some sort of development to the rear of the property from the mid-19th century, though this was set back from the rear wall of the main building, following the line of the existing lightwell – though it is unclear at what level this building sat (likely lower-profile due to an indicated stepped access into the garden), any above-ground additions have since been lost, revealing the rear three bay window.
Application 20/01694/LBA was previously granted listed building consent for matching proposals to erect a rear single storey extension and glazed link. This consent has since expired. The current application is a resubmission of 20/01694/LBA without any changes to the previous plans.
BPT acknowledges the precedent for development on the site due to the existing extension, and the presence of later additions to the rear elevations of other dwellings along the Royal Crescent. These rear elevations, despite having limited public view, possess significance through their visual demonstration of historic change and alteration unique to Bath’s backland character, and therefore any proposed changes should be suitably recessive in scale and design to minimise harm to the aesthetic and architectural interest of the rear elevation.
Consequently, the proposed extension, by virtue of the inappropriate increase in scale and visual intrusion into the architectural composition of the rear five storey bay window, would be detrimental to the heritage significance and setting of the listed building.
Within the tightly enclosed and small scale of the existing rear courtyard garden, the proposed extension would be a disproportionate addition to the garden, and as such would result in detriment to the garden setting.
Whilst the existing laundry extension has established an acceptable precedent for development of a similar small, ancillary scale, the proposed extension is considered to constitute inappropriate development due to the excessive increase in scale to the rear of the property, both extending out to the rear northern boundary of the terrace as well as increasing its width west, eating into the available outdoor seating space whilst encroaching into views of and in/out of the rear five storey bay window. The rear of 14 Royal Crescent is somewhat unusual due to its largely retained uniformity of appearance across the rear elevation; the extension would therefore harm this architectural and aesthetic element of a listed building by introducing a strong asymmetrical focus whilst partially obscuring a historic feature of interest.
Whilst the extension is proposed to relocate the bedroom from the living/dining space, the self-contained nature of the extension, with an ensuite and separate access onto the terrace, may enable the extension to function as a separate, self-contained short-term or holiday let, rather than an ancillary extension to the primary residential use of the ground floor of the building. There is a concern that this extension could subdivide the existing ground floor flat into a site of multiple occupancy types at the detriment to 14 Royal Crescent’s retained residential character, and would establish an unwelcome precedent for other, similar alterations across the Royal Crescent and others of Bath’s monumental Georgian ensembles that could further erode the provision of housing within the city centre and its immediate surroundings.
This proposal therefore constitutes harm to a Grade I listed building with no demonstrable public benefit, and may potentially erode the retained long-term residential use of the building. Consequently, this application is contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, BD1, D1, D2, D3, D5, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.