Lidl, Fieldings Road, Twerton, Bath
The proposed subject of this application is the Grade II 1960s former Cabinet Maker’s Factory on Lower Bristol Road, situated within the World Heritage Site and the indicative townscape setting of the Bath conservation area. The building historically operated as a single enclosed unit for “the assembly, polishing, storage and dispatch of furniture” (Historic England) and features an internal steel space frame which is publicly visible due to the extensive glazing of the upper half of the external elevations. The building has since been split into a number of retail units, with Lidl occupying the west half. The former factory remains a visually distinctive aspect of the Lower Bristol Road approach into the city centre due to overtly industrial aesthetic, and it remains an unusual survivor of Bath’s late 20th century industrial and economic heritage.
BPT previously objected to earlier, refused proposals for the application of solar film (see 21/04391/LBA) on grounds of harm to the appearance and associated special interest of a listed building. The previously proposed film would have almost entirely obscured the view of the internal Mero space frame roof which is a key part of the special architectural interest of the building and the basis for its listing.
We recognise that efforts have been made for greater negotiation between the use of a solar film (and associated shading benefits) and the retained visual transparency of the glazed southern elevation.
However, we maintain the significance of sustaining the unified appearance of the building as a historic whole. Whilst internally subdivided into multiple retail units in the late 2000s, care has been taken that any aesthetic division has been limited to prevent detriment to the factory’s original exterior, particularly in prominent streetscape views along the sizable southern elevation.
We therefore maintain concerns regarding the fragmented nature of proposals and ongoing visual detriment to the listed building. Whilst the new solar film does have the benefit of allowing for retained views of the internal space frame, in comparison with the existing unobscured glazing it does have a noticeably darker tint. As yet, it is difficult to assess the cumulative visual impact of this film as it has only been applied to one glazed panel as a sample. However, it can be concluded that there would be an identifiable visual difference between the treated and untreated windows, the aesthetic effect of which would be heightened by the extent of film to be installed along the southern elevation overlooking Lower Bristol Road.
The proposed scope of works would therefore result in continued harm to the appearance of a locally distinctive and unusual Grade II building within Bath due to the proposed use of differing window treatments along the prominent southern elevation. Works that would result in the externally visible subdivision of the building would have resulting harm to its original plan form and historic and evidential use as a single premises. We continue to emphasise the importance of considering works as part of a shared enterprise with other street-facing units such as Pets at Home to ensure a coherent treatment across the elevation in its entirety.
This application would continue to propose the visual fragmentation of the building and would fail to preserve or enhance the special interest of the listed building. It is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas Act) 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.