Francis Hotel, 6 – 11 Queen Square, City Centre, Bath
5-11 Queen Square, now the Francis Hotel, is a Grade I series of terraced townhouses later amalgamated into a single hotel situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of a monumental ensemble of Grade I buildings on Queen Square by John Wood the Elder and as such forms part of a significant example of Georgian town planning and innovations in dramatic urban topography. It therefore strongly contributes to the OUV of the World Heritage Site.
We note that there is no listed building application submitted despite the proposed material changes to the exterior of a Grade I building.
The proposed signage, increase in fixings into the exterior stonework and resulting loss of historic fabric would result in heritage harm. There would be an overall increase in the volume of signage across the frontage, with the addition of ‘The Francis Hotel’ to both the left and right of the central glazed canopy. The amount of signage would result in cumulative cluttering of the frontage of a Grade I listed building and an overly fussy appearance. The additions of ‘The’ and ‘Hotel’ intersecting with the first and second floor window reveals introduces an unwelcome, asymmetric element at odds with the balance of the principal façade.
We question the need to replicate ‘The Francis Hotel’ twice, the result of which being the visual fragmentation of the building in contrast with its unified, palatial scale and articulation.
In the proposed visuals, the use of black lettering appears very stark in colour against the Bath stone, and we therefore suggest a more muted tone in an appropriate finish (matte) may be preferable in this location.
Paragraph 202 of the NPPF states that “where a development proposal will lead to less than substantial harm to the significance of a designated heritage asset, this harm should be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.” We consider that the proposed signage does not warrant public benefit. And that the existing signage on the building, which already clearly advertises the hotel premises. We therefore conclude that the proposal is unjustified and would result in the unnecessary loss of historic fabric due to unjustified additional signage fixings to the frontage.
The amount of proposed signage would fail to sustain the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building, and would neither preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies CP6, D1, D2, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.