The Bear, 8 – 10 Wellsway, Bath
The Bear Hotel, formerly the Bear Inn, is an unlisted public house situated within the Bear Flat character area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. Historically, the site was occupied by the Bear Brewery and the old Bear Inn along the junction between Wellsway and Wells Road, which were subsequently demolished following significant Blitz damage. The existing Bear Hotel building is currently a post-war construction of limited architectural interest or contribution to the conservation area, but remains the focus of significant social and evidential value to the local community as a public house which has continuously been run under the same name which historically dates as early as the late 18th century.
We recognise that as existing, the pub has very limited outdoor space for the use of customers, as existing restricted to the gravelled area to the south of the building. This proposal therefore offers an opportunity to positively activate the premises and its contribution to the local, commercial centre on the Wells Road/Wellsway junction. There is also consideration as to how this could contribute to the ongoing and future viability of the pub as a commercial premises in this area.
We acknowledge that the creation of a roof terrace in this area would result in increased noise and lighting during opening hours, with resulting impact to the amenity of neighbouring residents. However, we do not consider that the increased activity in this area would be out of keeping with its context, located directly on Wellsway which remains a very busy vehicular thoroughfare into the city centre. We trust that appropriate noise mitigations, such as time restrictions on the terrace’s use, may be considered by the case officer to appropriately mitigate residents’ concerns.
The proposed bar would be orientated so that the timber-clad, enclosed rear of the bar would form part of the principal eastern façade. However, we feel this would be a stark visual addition to the building; we therefore consider that the relocation of the bar to the western edge of the roof would be a more positive opportunity to open up and activate the terrace as part of the building and the wider streetscape. This would have the added opportunity to concentrate the focus of terrace noise and activity onto the roadside, where there is already an established baseline of vehicular movement and noise, and provide an aesthetic and acoustic barrier between the terrace and adjacent residents on Bloomfield Road.
We consider that the staircase between the terrace and pavement level is insufficiently detailed; as proposed it looks overly heavy and clumsy. A slimmer, more graceful profile would be welcomed to give the impression of a lighter touch addition to the existing building. We question whether the dog’s leg turn could be omitted to minimise bulk and allow for a smoother visual transition between floors.
We also strongly recommend that close-up details of the proposed boundary balustrade are submitted.
We note that there is capacity for these proposals to include public realm improvements along the southern extent of the building. The existing condition of the site is relatively poor and overly dominated by unbroken hardstanding. The integration of green planting or soft landscaping in this area such as freestanding planters or pots, crawling greenery, or even a street tree, would help to better define the corner and break up this large area of concrete paving, drawing from numerous examples of street-facing gardens along the street.
BPT is therefore not opposed to the principle of this scheme where there is an opportunity to positively enhance the vitality of the conservation area. However, we recommend that there are changes that could be made to ensure the success of this space and improve the residential amenity of neighbouring dwellings, as well as the pub’s contribution to streetscape appearance and character.