Land Between 1 And Georges Buildings, Walcot Gate, Walcot, Bath
The proposed site of development is situated to the rear of the Grade II late 18th century 140, 142, and 144 Walcot Street and the Grade II late 19th century 146 Walcot Street, within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The site directly overlooks the Grade II mid-19th century Mortuary Chapel and its burial ground and wider amenity space that forms its open, green setting sloping down to the River Avon. The site is residential backland, characterised by locally distinctive variations in the rear elevations and vernacular materials. The area remains notably low-rise along the road with buildings set back from the pavement edge behind a mixture of Bath stone ashlar and coursed rubble stone boundary walls. The site was originally occupied by 5-7 Georges Buildings situated perpendicular to Walcot Street that followed the slope of the hill and were an example of Bath’s backland and ‘court’ housing; these have since been demolished although a party wall remains in situ as an evidential marker.
We are supportive of the principle of the residential development of brownfield land to provide longer term housing for locals within the city centre. We note that as the land has historically been developed separately from 146 Walcot Street, this proposal would not constitute garden development. We appreciate that the historic location of Worcester Lodge on the site until the 1980s may be considered a precedent for development, although we highlight that the current appearance and character of the site and its contribution to the conservation area and World Heritage Site as existing should be considered in relation to the proposed impact of the development, rather than historic iterations of architectural form.
Whilst the boundary wall is a modern construction and therefore of no historic value, it remains a positive aesthetic feature and accords with the streetscape character of Walcot Gate and the wider conservation area. We have some concerns that the scale of the development footprint and proposed proximity of the building elevation to the boundary line may place undue pressure on this wall, although it is stated that this wall would be retained. We encourage the case officer to ask for further details as to how the proposal would interact with the wall during construction and as part of its future residential use.
We suggest that details regarding materials are clarified as part of the application rather than by Condition. There is some confusion between the D&A Statement and Sustainable Construction Checklist as to whether natural Bath stone or reconstituted stone would be used, as reconstituted stone does have a slightly different finish and wear. Considering the prevalence of natural Bath stone as a primary building material within the historic city core, we feel that the selection of a natural stone would be more appropriate to the proposal’s setting.
We note and encourage the proposal’s intention to establish an “exemplar” of sustainable development. In light of the declared Climate Emergency, the Trust agrees that increased energy efficiency and thermal performance are required from both new builds and the retrofit of existing housing stock; we would be interested in working further with the applicant regarding this intention to establish a city centre precedent for sustainable development and design. However, we feel that an “exemplar” should do more than meet the minimum requirement for CO2 emission reductions as specified in Part L of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations. We encourage the consideration of further potential carbon offsets and are interested in the formulation of an innovative principle of sustainable development whilst remaining sensitive to its historic environment.
Moreover, there is insufficient information provided regarding certain aspects of the scheme such as the integration of PV panels. It is not clear as to whether PV panels would be included as part of this proposal, or if it merely acknowledged as a future possibility for tenants/landlords. It would be beneficial for this to be clarified; furthermore, considering the site’s sensitive historic location, we encourage the submission of further drawings and details regarding the proposed panels’ design and appearance as part of the whole building. We refer to Policy SCR3 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan for further guidance, and highlight the particular need to consider the panels throughout the design process to ensure they are integrated as seamlessly and congruously as possible into their historic environment.