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.
Part of the more recent local value has been attributed to the distinctive signage of the public house as existing, which includes the figure of a polar bear over the main entrance. This has been identified within the Bear Flat & Oldfield Park CACA as an easily distinguishable and well-known local landmark which gives “the locality a significant social identity”, even if “not particularly attractive in townscape terms”. Consequently, it can be considered to contribute positively to local distinctiveness and the social character and appearance of the Bath conservation area.
BPT encourages the opportunity for improvements to what is now a tired-looking post-war building. We feel that the right signage proposal would help to revitalise and enliven the pub’s contribution to the streetscape and the localised Bear Flat high street.
The use of timber hand-painted signage is supported within the conservation area.
We strongly support the retention of the pub name as The Bear Inn as an integral aspect of Bear Flat’s social history. However, we are resistant to the loss of the polar bear figure which has become a popular local landmark and is a distinctive addition to the streetscape. We strongly recommend that this is retained as part of the current proposals, although there is scope for it to be relocated to a different part of the pub frontage if necessary.
However, we are unable to support this application on grounds of the proposed excessive use of illumination. BPT is resistant to the principle of illuminated signage. We feel this is contrary to Bath’s low-level lighting and distinctive night time character. The proposed volume of illumination is excessive, with a total of 10 external lights across the building frontage and trough lighting over the house name lettering. Considering the building’s prominent location on a busy approach to the Wellsway junction and into Bath city centre, with wide-ranging visibility in views along Wellsway, we consider this volume of illumination to be unnecessary and unjustifiable in relation to proposed public benefit or the advertising needs of the premises. This would be an intrusive addition at odds with the established signage and lighting character of the conservation area. We encourage that the proposed illumination should be omitted from this application, or otherwise significantly reduced in volume to appropriately mitigate harm.
We are supportive of the objectives of the proposed works, but unfortunately cannot support this application in its current form as it would not preserve or enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area, and is 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.