Street Record, Terrace Walk, City Centre
The proposed location of a new BT Street Hub is on Terrace Walk, situated within the historic core of the Bath City Wide Conservation Area and the World Heritage Site. The area of Terrace Walk is a significant aspect of Bath’s 18th century public realm that interconnects with key setpieces throughout the city centre, including the Grade I Pulteney Bridge to the north via Grand Parade, the Grade I Bath Abbey and Grade I Roman Baths to the west via York Street, and the Grade II Parade Gardens immediately adjacent to the east. The area is made up of a very high concentration of listed buildings, including the Grade II terrace 1-9 Terrace Walk and I York Street, but most notably the Grade II* mid-18th century terrace of North Parade by John Wood the Elder. The proposed Street Hub would be directly situated in front of the western segment of the terrace at Nos. 1-6.
The pavement has already become a point of increasing street clutter to the detriment of the appearance of a listed terrace and its contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area. The compounding of street infrastructure such as phone boxes, cabinets, letter boxes, and signage also serve to physically and visually obstruct the pavement with resulting harm to the amenity and accessibility of pavement users. The Bath City Centre Conservation Area Character Appraisal identifies “street clutter: ill-positioned bins, signs and other street furniture (e.g. Terrace Walk)” as a negative townscape feature with direct reference to Terrace Walk. As existing, the site does not appear to sufficiently meet BT’s identified site criteria “where a site’s relationship with existing street furniture avoids an overwhelming proliferation of street clutter” (D&A Statement).
Signage proposals in this area are expected to address the cumulative impact of cluttering signage and street furniture and enhance the setting and visual amenities of multiple heritage assets. We do not consider that sites where street clutter has already accumulated is suitable justification for the addition of further signage and/or infrastructure, on the basis that a degree of harm to visual amenity value and the historic character and appearance and setting has already been caused.
BPT maintains an in principle resistance to the use of illuminated screen signage where this would be contrary to Bath’s low-level lighting and distinctive night time character, and detract from the character and appearance of the conservation area. The 2x LED screens would be oversized (approx. 926mm x 1870mm) and would retain dual visibility to the east and west along North Parade and towards North Parade Passage; as such, this would be an over dominant, brightly illuminated addition to the historic streetscape.
North Parade’s special interest (heritage significance) is derived from its architectural homogeneity, balance, and form, as part of a larger collective ensemble indicative of John Wood the Elder’s plans for a ‘Royal Forum’, which was ultimately never finished. It therefore further contributes towards the Georgian town planning and architecture OUV of the World Heritage Site and is indicative of Bath’s speculative development through the Georgian period. The large expanse of pavement and orientation of the road results in clear, prominent views of the terrace façade from along North Parade and Grand Parade. The proposed Street Hub would therefore intrude into mid-range townscape views of the terrace’s principal, shared elevation with resulting adverse impact to the setting of a group of Grade II* buildings, and its contribution to the conservation area and World Heritage Site.
Whilst we recognise the cited public benefits of the removal of 2x defunct BT phone boxes, this is not considered to sufficiently outweigh the harm of the proposed replacement Street Hub. As existing, the phone boxes and ATM form a tightly contained group; the positioning of a new Street Hub approx. 3.1m to the west would instead spread the clutter and associated adverse visual impact further across the pavement and the frontage of the Grade II* terrace. The Street Hub would also be of an increased height and scale at 2980mm tall, compared with the existing phone boxes which have an average height of 2192mm, and as such would be of increased visual prominence.
The addition of a Street Hub in this location would be wholly inappropriate, by virtue of its position, height, scale and appearance would harm the significance, setting and relationship of multiple heritage assets, including the Grade II and II* listed terraces, the character and appearance of the conservation area, and the special qualities of the World Heritage Site. Proposals would therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D8, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.