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 similar proposals for the application of solar film to the Pets at Home unit in the same building in 2018 (see 18/01818/LBA).
We are not supportive of retrospective listed building applications, and strongly maintain that appropriate consent should always be obtained before works commence.
We therefore maintain our objections on the basis that the solar film would remove from external view the Mero space frame roof which is a key part of the special architectural interest of the building and the basis for its listing. We note that images of the film in situ have now been uploaded to the planning portal; whilst a limited amount of transparency has been retained, the photographs clearly illustrate that the internal space frame is now obscured from public view along the building’s most publicly visible roadside elevation. Therefore the proposal would detract from the ability to view, appreciate and better reveal this special feature of the building and consequently harm its special historic and architectural interest.
The scope of this application remains unclear, and the D&A/Heritage Statement do not appear to be relevant to the specific works outlined within this application. No other options appear to have been considered, and similarly there is a lack of suitable justification for the need for solar film of this dark colour or its impact on the appearance of the building. We understand it should be possible to use clear solar film (such as those used in historic houses for conservation) and would recommend this option is investigated.
Due to the subdivision of the building into retail units, further consideration is needed as to how the proposed works would interact with the existing treatment of the other half of the roadside elevation (currently within the remit of Pets at Home). Differing treatments of the windows would result in the externally visible subdivision of the building with resulting harm to its original plan form and historic use as a single premises.
This application in its current form would therefore fail to preserve or enhance the special interest of the listed building, and is 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.