Joules, 12 Northgate Street, City Centre
The proposed site of development is situated within the city core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. Works encompass multiple Grade II listed buildings, including 12 Northgate Street and 9-10 Bridge Street, the former premises of the music business Duck, Son & Pinker with bespoke Edwardian shop fronts. The Turtle Bay unit at 11 Bridge Street is dated to the 1980s in construction, but is located on the site of an older building that has since been demolished. It is indicated that the Northgate Street and Bridge Street areas were largely redeveloped in the 18th century and this has informed the architectural and material appearance of both principal facades. However, the site adjoins Slippery Lane (which forms part of this application); formerly Alford Lane, it is indicated in historic maps as early as 1735 and is one of Bath’s few surviving medieval lanes that originally provided a through route to the riverside ferry, and likely followed the line of an earlier medieval wall. It is suggested that the buildings along Slippery Lane are therefore earlier in date, likely dating to the 17th century.
The Trust is supportive of the principal of the proposed works for cleaning, repairs, repointing, and removal of invasive vegetation growth, which are all necessary maintenance works for the continued health of a group of Grade II buildings. We emphasise that listed buildings require regular ongoing maintenance in order to prevent smaller issues becoming serious problems in future, often resulting in the irreversible and detrimental loss of historic fabric.
However, considering the high historic and evidential significance of Slippery Lane as an extant piece of Bath’s earlier medieval history, we feel this application constitutes a missed opportunity for further enhancement of a rare heritage asset. The lane is not publicly accessible, but it is visible from Northgate Street and provides a distinctive break in the otherwise terraced streetscape. There is further potential for the interpretation of this area or for works to enhance the appearance of the street, such as the implementation of more traditional lighting to provide an attractive glimpsed view from the main street, as one of Bath’s ‘hidden gems’.
We have some concerns regarding the addition of further modern ‘clutter’ such as emergency lighting fittings and a horizontal stretch of drainage pipework to run over the paving, and encourage consideration of alternative measures which are more complementary to the distinctive appearance and character of the lane. We note an absence of detail regarding potentially significant works, such as the re-laying of pennant stones along Slippery Lane.
The Trust would be interested in further discussions about the possibilities of better revealing the significance of one of Bath’s last surviving medieval lanes, whilst acknowledging that it remains a private working space and needs to be appropriately functional.