Oriel Cottage, 17 Gloucester Road, Lower Swainswick, Bath
Oriel Cottage is a Grade II terraced late 18th century dwelling situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It is comprised of two blocks, with the north-eastern block dating to the late 18th century and the south-western block being a later 19th century addition with a pitched roof profile and contrasting window fenestration scale and pattern. It forms part of the grouped street frontage with the Grade II mid-19th century Oriel Lodge, whose frontage complements the early to mid-19th century block of Oriel Cottage, and the Grade II early-18th century to mid-19th century terraced range of cottage at Lower Swainswick Cottages. Whilst somewhat obscured by dense front garden planting, the buildings remain present in the streetscape in close to mid-range views along Gloucester Road, particularly on the southern approach. However, the garden does successfully conceal from view a series of outbuildings within the garden setting, a number of which have been identified as the remnant of late 19th/early 20th century peach houses in the Heritage Statement.
BPT welcomes the opportunity for the much-needed renovation and repair of this building, which is currently indicated to be in a deleterious condition. The removal of non-original fittings would not result in the loss of historic fabric and is therefore acceptable.
We are supportive of measures to address the cause of penetrating damp, such as the proposed drop in ground level where this interacts with the external wall of the kitchen, and the installation of a limecrete floor against the rear wall of the house (presumably to replace the existing concrete slab in the kitchen). However, whilst we note that there have been previous detrimental attempts to manage damp to the rear of the house including “the use of cement-based plaster (such as Vandex) behind the kitchen units and the re-plastering of walls with gypsum based plaster”, there is no indication as part of this application that these works would be reversed. We maintain the importance of removing this unsympathetic intervention to allow the original stonework to breathe; the use of cementitious-based solutions are often prone to failure and can cause longer-term issues to the health and performance of historic fabric.
We consider that should the principle of the front garden extension be considered acceptable, an approach should be considered that retains a perceived ‘separate’ access and external treatment to the outbuildings and therefore continues to read as an outbuilding rather than a predominantly residential extension.
BPT is supportive of the installation of secondary glazing to improve the thermal performance of the building without compromising on its historic features. We welcome a wholescale approach to installation where any potential alterations to the appearance of the windows would be the same, and therefore all windows would remain visually coherent with one another. Whilst there are more recessive magnetically-mounted secondary glazing systems, we maintain that the proposed use of secondary glazing would remain a positive, easily reversible addition to improve the energy efficiency and residential comfort of a historic building and ensure its long-term, sustainable use.
We maintain that further details are required regarding the proposed off-street parking space, such as proposed hard landscaping and the specification of the new boundary wall to ensure that this would be materially in-keeping with the character and appearance of the conservation area. It is unclear as to whether there is a historic boundary wall present underneath the existing boundary planting; demolition of any historic material in this area should be included within this application.