King’s Head, 40 High Street, Upper Weston, Bath
The King’s Head is a Grade II late 18th century public house, situated within the Upper Weston character area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The pub occupies a central position on the historic Upper Weston High Street with greater architectural significance attributed to its principal five window range façade in Bath stone ashlar (now rendered). However, following the later 20th century creation of Crown Road the pub now has a visually prominent dual frontage across the junction of Crown Road with the high street. The less ‘polite’ elevations of the building are articulated in Bath rubble stone with ashlar quoining, apparent across the rear elevation as well as the elevations of the two storey southern wing suggested to be a later addition. The rear elevation of the pub, whilst of lesser architectural value, retains evidential and historic interest as part of the historic pub premises and a surviving connection between the pub and its ancillary setting, formerly a mid to late-19th century courtyard with outbuildings that have since been demolished. The pub retains strong social significance as a community facility and a pub that has been running from at least the late 19th century.
The Heritage Statement concludes that “The site - i.e. the layout, surface and substrates of the car park - is of neutral significance: it neither adds to nor detracts from the significance of the building or surrounding heritage assets.” BPT acknowledges that the existing car park setting is of low historic and architectural significance to the heritage asset. We appreciate that there is an opportunity to reintroduce a courtyard layout similar to the historic layout of the King’s Head. However, this conclusion overlooks the benefits of the low-profile openness of the site which allows for views of the listed building’s rear elevation in its entirety from Crown Road. Whilst the original setting of the heritage asset has not remained fixed, it can be argued that the existing open element of its streetscape setting makes a positive contribution to the experience of the heritage asset, which should be considered against new development proposals.
BPT therefore opposes this development on grounds of excessive bulk, density, and scale resulting in the overdevelopment of the setting of a listed building. We have strong concerns regarding the combined height and massing of development which would dominate the site and have an overbearing impact on the current prominence of the heritage asset on a dual frontage site between the historic high street and Crown Road.
The proposed apartment block is oversized and would form a new, unbroken elevation along Crown Road. The solid extent of the roof profile increases the perceived massing of development and would overcrowd the setting of the listed building whilst blocking the rear elevation from views along Crown Road. The development would sit up immediately against the pavement line with no setback or defensible space to soften its impact on the streetscape. We maintain that development of this scale is out of keeping with the significance and architectural interest of the listed building and is an anachronistic attempt at the reinstatement of the historic courtyard and south-western block; the buildings previously on this site were most likely stables or outbuildings that served an ancillary use to the main pub building and would have therefore been more subservient in height and form. This development would instead challenge the architectural prominence of the listed building and cut it off from its historic setting.
The proposed CGIs are misleading and do not show the extent to which the proposed apartment block would obstruct views into and across the site. The proposed sections indicate that the shoulder height of the apartment block would sit higher than the listed building and the apartment block’s roof ridge would only be marginally lower than the apex of the mansard roof. The proposed roof plans show that there would be close intersection between the new apartment block and the existing two storey south-western block associated with 41 High Street, which has already had an adverse impact on the setting and significance of the listed building. Therefore, the proposed height and footprint of the apartment block would significantly obscure views of the listed building rear and the fine profile of the mansard roof. In conjunction with 41 High Street, the development would cumulatively block almost all views of the heritage asset from Crown Road with resulting harm to the setting of a listed building and adverse impact on its contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area.
High-density development further south along Crown Road is not considered to be an acceptable or desirable precedent in relation to the setting of a listed building.
The design is poorly articulated with no elevational detailing, and does not appropriately reference its historic context. The use of multiple materials across the apartment block façade in attempt to visually ‘break down’ the building massing is an artificial attempt to create a phased streetscape narrative, where historically the previous buildings on the site would have likely had a fairly consistent elevational treatment.
We remain opposed in-principle to the use of render on prominent or principle street-facing elevations, particularly within the setting of a listed building and the conservation area. The extensive use of render would have a sharp and bright appearance within Bath’s primarily natural Bath stone context, and would therefore would neither conserve nor enhance the appearance and character of the conservation area.
We therefore maintain that due to later changes and the post-1960s creation of Crown Road running south, additional focus has been placed on the rear of the listed building and its associated special architectural and historic interest. We maintain that new development within this constrained setting should be mindful to sustaining this significance and call for a quality, detailed approach of a reduced height and massing.
As proposed, this development would be an inappropriate and harmful addition to the streetscape.
Furthermore, we have concerns regarding the impact of proposed development on the future viability of the King’s Head as a commercial premises. We note that there is an active application for the change of use of the building from a public house to a bakery/pizzeria (Class E) (see application 21/05001/LBA) which would maintain similar customer access requirements. The rear yard currently offers space for off-street parking which appears to have been used when the pub was running. The development would therefore result in the loss of the majority of available customer parking space (excluding a loading bay for deliveries) and it is not clear as to how this would impact the viability of the business. The setting of the premises would also be heavily constrained and restrict opportunities such as the creation of outdoor seating/amenity space, which has proven to be an invaluable resource for pubs and restaurants throughout the pandemic. We therefore strongly emphasise the need for this to be appropriately considered as part of a coherent scheme that factors in the continued, successful running of the King’s Head as a local business and community facility.
This application would harm the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building and its setting and would not preserve or 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 B1, BD1, DW1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, D7, HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should therefore be refused or withdrawn.