Sally Lunn’s Ltd
This application concerns the junction of North Parade Passage and North Parade Buildings, which forms part of the commercial Abbey Quarter within the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. The street forms the shared setting of a dense cluster of Grade II and Grade II* buildings, with an architectural mix of traditional Georgian vernacular with rarer examples of early 18th century and, in the case of Sally Lunn’s House, early 17th century material and form, with 15th century medieval origins. The crossover of the narrow, backland North Parade Passage with the more grandly proportioned North Parade Buildings provides a pleasing historic and aesthetic contrast, unusual considering Bath’s largely Georgian homogeneity.
Whilst we acknowledge the challenges caused by Covid-19 to local businesses and eateries to be addressed by the provision of additional external seating, the Trust has the following concerns:
North Parade Buildings has remained an uncluttered, visually proportional and symmetrical street with long, unobstructed views to and from the exterior of Sally Lunn’s, and is a positive example of Georgian town planning and intentional wide streets and flat pavements “to encourage promenading” (WHS Management Plan 2016-2022). Therefore, the introduction of a significant volume of seating along the eastern side will significantly block the visual permeability of North Parade Buildings, whilst introducing an unwelcome aesthetic asymmetry in conflict to the intentional Georgian appearance and character of the townhouse terrace.
Furthermore, we would note that Sally Lunn’s is located at a tight pinch point at the intersection of streets, due to the narrowness of North Parade Passage. We are therefore concerned that outdoor seating would be of detriment to the visitor and pedestrian amenity of this region of the conservation area, with particular regards to disability access requirements where any pedestrian route is required to leave at least 1.5m space for disabled and wheelchair access. Considering the current social distancing measures in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, we feel that the introduction of external seating, whilst beneficial to the social-distanced function of Sally Lunn’s, would impede two-way pedestrianised social distancing along Church Street due to the overall narrowing of the public realm.
We would further highlight that should this temporary licence be granted, it must be for a short period of time, not more than 12 months, as this would establish precedent for the provision of further pavement licences down North Parade Passage where there is a large number of similar businesses, with direct detriment to the accessibility and appearance of the conservation area. We would also recommend that the licence limits the use and occupation of the pavement to certain days and times which allows for days when the pavement is not in use or cluttered, in the interest of maintaining the high visual amenity value of the area.
The Trust strongly recommends that the suitability of this licence is closely considered with reference to its placement within a significant historic and pedestrian route through the conservation area and World Heritage site.