Gort-na-crane, The Avenue, Combe Down, Bath
Gort-na-crane is an unlisted mid- to late 19th century detached villa, situated within the Combe Down character area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is located directly next to the Grade II early to mid-19th century Combe Down House, now a pharmacy. Together, the pair of villas form part of the earlier 19th century development along the Avenue, and are indicative of the lower density, detached grain of the streetscape in which dwellings are set back in large strip garden plots. Gort-na-crane is a positive example of 19th century vernacular; despite later additions such as the ground floor bay window and variety of side and rear extensions, the building retains a balanced three bay composition across its principal façade with a well-detailed stone porch and hipped roof with symmetrically placed chimney stacks and bracketed eaves overhang. Part of the aesthetic significance of the building is in its detached relationship with its neighbours, with clear spaces retained down the sides from front to rear.
Considering the architectural merit of Gort-na-crane, its grouped significance with the 19th century built vernacular in the area, and its evidential significance as part of the early residential development of the Avenue, we consider it should be classed as a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA).
BPT has significant concerns regarding the proposed height and scale of the new extension, particularly as perceived from the Avenue as part of the principal elevation. Whilst we consider there is an opportunity for the refurbishment of the existing single storey side extension, we feel that the second storey extension would be too tall and would detract from the retained architectural balance of the main façade. The extension would ‘crash’ awkwardly into the roof and sit too close to the eaves, resulting in the loss or obstruction of the retained bracketing detail. The build-up of the side extension would further block up the visible gap between buildings which forms a significant aspect of the building’s designed setting.
We therefore strongly recommend that the proposed side extension should be brought down in height to retain the roof eaves as existing, and to sit in a more respectful position in relation to the host building, rather than trying to visually compete in scale. We additionally suggest that the street-facing elevation of the side extension could be brought back to sit further behind the principal elevation to remain more recessive in position and layout.
We have concerns regarding the lack of detail regarding the proposed appearance, materiality, and finish of the timber cladding. We currently maintain that there is an insufficient amount of information available to comment on the suitability of timber cladding in this location. However, we strongly recommend that a timber with a natural patina that could weather to a soft, recessive finish would more appropriately complement the colour and grain of the principal Bath stone façade. We are not supportive of a timber that has been treated, resulting in an over-bright and strident appearance which would sit incongruously with the natural material palette of the streetscape and would not preserve or enhance the appearance and character of the conservation area.