St Pauls House, 1A St Paul’s Place, Kingsmead, Bath
St Paul’s House is an unlisted mid- to late-19th century terraced building situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The site is located adjacent to the Grade II late 19th century Holy Trinity Church. It adjoins the Grade II late 18th century terrace at 23-30 Charles Street which wraps around the western corner of Charles Street onto St Paul’s Place; 28-30 Charles Street were a later, sympathetic addition in 1850, marking a gradual, chronological build-up of the area. The street was subject to significant bomb damage in the 1940s resulting in the loss of the New King Street Chapel, the boy’s school, and the majority of the terrace along St Paul’s Place which has since been infilled with housing and a community centre in an overtly modern style. St Paul’s House is therefore a rare survivor of the original street form and layout in this area and is considered to be a Non-Designated Heritage Asset (NDHA).
The building has been subject to numerous 20th century alterations in the treatment and use of the ground floor commercial units, which were previously shops before being converted to office use in 2003, and alterations to the principal street-facing elevation with the addition of first floor bay windows. The premises have been vacant for two years and are currently in a poor condition.
BPT is grateful to have been consulted on these proposals at pre-application stage with the architect. We maintain our comments regarding the positive opportunity for energy efficiency retrofits where appropriate, including internal insulation and slimlite glazing pending further details, and our support of the principle to bring the building back into use with associated heritage gains in repair and maintenance works.
However, we are currently unable to support this application due to the design of the proposed shopfront. We do not consider the use of a multi-pane window fenestration to be consistent with the historic and architectural interest of a mid- to late 19th century NDHA. The D&A Statement cites the shopfront at 12 Chapel Row as a relevant precedent; however, the terrace along Chapel Row and Monmouth Street retain their late 18th century appearance and architectural detailing. In contrast, Charles Street and St Paul’s Place have been subject to significant later 19th century alteration, and existing shopfronts in this area are of a simpler profile with large, undivided panes of glass.
We consider that a Georgian-style frontage treatment on this building would be inappropriate, and distort the legibility of later Victorian development in this area. We are disappointed that the proposed shopfront does not appear to draw on an evidenced historic precedent at St Paul’s House, and does not reference the attractive detailing present in the existing shopfront such as the use of semi-elliptical window heads and vertical mullions which may be more indicative of historic shop frontages in this area.
Similarly, we do not consider that there is appropriate justification or design reference for the six-over-six fenestration of the proposed replacement timber sash windows. Considering the mid- to late 19th century significance of the building as a NDHA and its wider historic streetscape context, one-over-one, or possibly a two-over-two, sash window would be more appropriate.
We therefore maintain an objection to the incongruous and inappropriate Georgian-inspired detailing of the replacement shop frontage, unless a more sympathetic window design is selected with greater reference to either the existing shopfront or other, more appropriate 19th century examples. We recommend further historical research to indicate a possible earlier design precedent at St Paul’s House. We favour the retention and adaptation of the existing shop windows.
This application would result in harm to the 19th century architectural and historic significance of a NDHA without adequate demonstrated balance against the proposed public benefit, and is consequently contrary to Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. BPT strongly recommends that the proposed shopfront design is reconsidered, or the application refused.