Shop Premises, 6 New Bond Street, City Centre, Bath
The proposed development encompasses both 6-7 New Bond Street, previously in occupancy as separate retail units until these were vacated 2018 & 2019. 6-7 New Bond Street forms part of a Grade II early 19th century terrace of houses at 1-9 New Bond Street with commercial ground floors, now with a mix of upper residential and office use, situated within the commercial core of the Bath Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. 1-4 New Bond Street on the corner with the high street were demolished and subsequently rebuilt as a single retail unit by 1983, now occupied by Anthropologie. As part of the wider streetscape, Nos. 6-7 contribute to the indicative grouped setting of a high concentration of Grade II early 19th century terraced buildings along New Bond Street, as well as reinforcing the street’s prominent retail character and eclectic mix of traditional-style shopfronts and signage.
The existing shopfronts at Nos. 6-7 are indicated to be 1983 additions in a Regency-inspired design (Historic England); whilst the shopfronts are not identical, they maintain a strong similarity in appearance due to their regular placement of timber pilasters and continuous timber fascia. It is concluded that the shopfronts as existing positively draw from and consequently reinforce their local context, albeit being of limited material or historic value.
Both shop units have been vacant since 2019 with negative consequences for the visual amenities and sense of activity along a key historic retail street within the city centre. We therefore welcome the opportunity for the re-use of these premises and associated public benefits of reactivating the street scene.
We are supportive of the external treatment to the shopfronts to repaint in a suitably complementary colour (Dulux Cobalt Night), although we recommend the use of a matte finish to mitigate against an overly reflective or shiny appearance. The use of hand-painted lettering across the fascia would draw from the traditional signage character and amenities of the streetscape and preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.
Alterations to the frontage, such as the bringing forward of the left-hand shop doors, are considered to be appropriate. The use of different transom light designs for each shopfront would suitably reflect their original use as separate retail units and their existing differences in appearance, although we maintain the suitability of interventions remains dependent on achieving a high quality finish compatible with the special interest of a listed building. The provision of proposed sections may be useful to better illustrate these changes; we express a preference for the use of through rather than applied glazing bars at transom level.
BPT does not typically comment on internal alterations without the benefit of a site visit. However, we note that the unification of this shopfront would require the removal of two sections of partition wall, which appear likely to be historic in origin due to their thickness as well as the placement of the central fireplaces and chimney breasts. The units appear to have been in historically separate use through the 19th and early 20th century, although the 1947-1965 OS does indicate the buildings as a single undivided block (this grouping does however also appear to include No. 5). As such, the merging of these shop units would appear to result in some loss of historic fabric and change to the historic plan form and layout of the buildings. Our concern is that this change to a pair of Grade II buildings, and the resulting potential impact to their special architectural and historic interest, does not appear to have been appropriately assessed or justified within the Heritage Statement, beyond the assertion that all alterations will be mainly focused at ground floor level and would be reversible in future – this does not account for the irreversible loss of historic fabric through the creation of two new internal openings.
Furthermore, the site and location plans incorporate the ‘staggered’ external walls looking onto the internal courtyard on Barton Court, but the existing and proposed floor plans appear to exclude the rearmost portion of the building, and recommend that this aspect of the scheme is clarified for the benefit of the case officer.