Street Record, High Street, City Centre
The proposed site for the installation of a Water Refill Unit is at the intersection between High Street and Bridge Street, within the city-centre core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It features as part of the setting for several Grade II buildings including 1-8 Bridge Street and 17 Northgate Street, and forms part of the indicative streetscape setting looking down to Grade I Pulteney Bridge along Argyle Street.
We note this application follows on from permitted application 19/05415/FUL, to which the Trust responded with comments regarding aspects of design such as colour and signage. A water refill unit was permitted in stainless steel with a satin black finish (RAL 9005). This application is consequently referred to as a template in design, materiality, and appearance for multiple proposed water refill stations within Bath.
In principle BPT is supportive of the public provision of Water Refill Units; we feel that this is a marked improvement to the amenity of Bath’s public realm for tourists and locals alike, and is a positive step towards reducing the use of single-use plastic throughout the city in light of the current Climate Emergency.
We refer to our previous comments regarding colour and design (see 19/05415/FUL). The Trust has no objection to the proposed cylindrical design of the Unit. Whilst a matt finish would be more desirable, we do not oppose the use of powder-coated stainless steel, presumably with a satin finish to match application 19/05415/FUL. Whilst the proposed use of a black colour (RAL 9005) is a starker colour choice than the dark blues and greys recommended in the Bath Pattern Book as complementary to Bath’s natural pennant and Bath stone material palette, this is a significantly more neutral selection than previous proposals in a Gentian Blue. We maintain a cohesive appearance throughout the city centre conservation area would ensure a consistency and uniformity that would better mitigate against potential visual harm.
Whilst we appreciate that the proposed signage matches permitted design 19/05415/FUL, we continue to suggest that a more formalised font is selected for use on the Unit to ensure a tidy and professional aesthetic finish. We feel that a standardised font would also be easier for members of the public to read, and would therefore be in the interests of public amenity and accessibility.
Whilst this site has purportedly been selected due to being of lower historic significance, we note that the site as existing is already an area of concentrated signage and equipment cabinets. We therefore caution against the addition of further street furniture that would result in a cumulatively cluttered and closed-in appearance to the detriment of the appearance and character of the conservation area as well as pedestrian accessibility.
Considering the increasing volume of associated applications for water refill stations within the city (20/04732/FUL, 20/04610/FUL, & 20/04734/FUL), we recommend that the LPA considers these applications in relation to existing principles within the Pattern Book of shape, design, materiality, and colour, and how these applications would establish a city-wide appearance and function new to Bath’s public realm. We feel this should therefore be integrated into future revisions of design guides and pattern books to ensure control over predicted future installations or alterations.