Parkside Children’s Centre, Charlotte Street, City Centre
Parkside Children’s Centre is an unlisted “British restaurant” built during World War Two. It is situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site, and has been designated a NDHA due to its rarity and evidential significance.
BPT is supportive of plans for the reuse of this vulnerable building. We feel that the provision of an alternative function will ensure a sustainable future use for the building, and result in improved regular maintenance works to ensure the health of surviving historic fabric.
However, we have some concerns with the proposed scheme:
The Trust notes that the northern portion of the building will be adapted and used by the city centre street cleansing team. However, the southern portion of the building is proposed to remain vacant, with no specified plans for potential future development documented within the D&A Statement. Consequently, there is some concern regarding the treatment of this part of the building and the missed opportunity for the provision of additional space that could serve a variety of functions. Furthermore, the lack of occupancy will likely have a negative impact on the material integrity of this area of the building, due to the lack of regular heating, cleaning, and inspection. Therefore, in accordance with Historic England’s advice on managing vacant buildings, we would recommend that the future of the southern portion of the building is opened up to Bath residents and local groups who might have a need or interest in the available space.
Furthermore, the Trust feels that this application has missed an opportunity regarding the proposed monopitch canopy for the storage of six electric vehicles and associated charging points. We feel that the canopy could utilise photovoltaic technology to generate the electricity needed for the EV charging points, providing a low-carbon or carbon-neutral source of energy in response to the current Climate Emergency.
Considering the proposed development’s impact on its setting, BPT do not support the construction of a 2.1m high close boarded timber fence around the perimeter of the functional site. We feel that not only does this close off the building from its setting and current public visibility, but the use of timber fencing is wholly out of keeping with the appearance of this portion of the conservation area. Parkside Children’s Centre is located behind the Grade II Georgian terrace of Charlotte Street; whilst the area has been modernised for parking utility, the area remains primarily defined by the high concentration of Bath stone used in the terrace’s rear façade and boundary walls. Therefore, we feel a stone wall around the perimeter, either ashlar or coursed rubble, would be more suited to the established backland character within the conservation area.
Furthermore, the current amalgamation of railings, wooden fencing, and wire mesh around the site looks messy and detracts from the appearance of a NDHA and its contribution to the surrounding area. Unfortunately, this application does not seem to amend this issue; the 3D visualisation included within the D&A Statement continues to present a discordant blend of fencing types around the site boundary. We would therefore strongly recommend the wholesale replacement of existing fencing with one consistent type of boundary treatment.