Kingswood School, Lansdown Road, Lansdown, Bath
The proposed site of works is the Kingswood School complex, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The site includes a group of historically interrelated buildings, including the Grade II Kingswood School Chapel (1922), the Grade II mid-19th century Lodge and associated 1920s boundary walls and gate piers, and the Grade II mid-19th century Kingswood School building attributed to James Wilson, later extended in the late 19th century.
The focus of works is on a plot of land to the west on the junction with Fonthill Road and College Road, including an existing timber-clad building indicated to be an ex-military structure from the First or Second World War. The structure is indicated to have been on the site by the mid-20th century, as shown on the 1947-1965 OS, and as such it may be concluded that the structure’s existing location is of limited contribution to its attributed historic significance as a piece of First/Second World War infrastructure. Alternatively, there may be possible associations between the building and the school’s use as the base of the Ministry of Defence through the Second World War, including involvement in the planning of the D-Day Landings – a historic photograph shows a series of timber-clad structures on the site that bear a striking similarity to the existing structure in form, scale, profile, and materiality:
https://www.kingswood.bath.sch.uk/news/2019-06-05/kingswood-s-role-in-the-d-d-landings Therefore, there could be further scope to assess whether the structure has a closer relationship with the school’s 20th century history and wartime use.
Section 16 of the NPPF sets out the framework of achieving a balanced judgement between the scale of harm and/or loss and proposed public benefit.
The Heritage Statement suggests that the building has undergone a series of post-war interventions to the exterior and interior, and as such a large amount of historic fabric, and some associated significance, has already been lost – “it is, therefore, a WW2 temporary building in appearance only.” It is further indicated that the structure is “beyond reasonable economic repair” and would require significant refurbishment to enable re-use.
Based on this assessment, it may be summarised that the building is of limited material significance, and its reuse would be either unviable or require extensive refurbishment likely requiring further loss of any surviving historic fabric. Whilst its removal would constitute a total loss of significance, this harm would be ultimately outweighed by the public benefits of the provision of new, up-to-date school facilities on the site.
We note that the Heritage Statement suggests the possibility of dismantling the structure to be reconstructed elsewhere on the site. Considering potential historic links with the school, we encourage potential consideration of the structure’s retention elsewhere (eg. storage space, or ancillary to sports/playing fields?). Alternatively, we strongly recommend that the structure is comprehensively documented in situ with a photographic and textual survey before it is dismantled.