The Old Vicarage, 110 Church Road, Combe Down
The Old Vicarage is a Grade II dwelling likely designed by HE Goodridge in 1840 as the former vicarage to the adjacent Holy Trinity Church, contemporary in age and design, situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. The Old Vicarage remains a grand example of Goodridge’s later pre- Gothic Revival style with established Jacobean features, generously set back in extensive private grounds, and is therefore of particular local significance considering its striking, standalone position along Church Road, and Goodridge’s architectural prevalence within Bath between the 1820s-1850s.
The proposed site of the orangery has been occupied with a greenhouse from 1853, and has consistently featured a glasshouse or greenhouse-style structure up until the existing structure which post-dates 1983, and appears in the amended listing description as of 2010-2012. The glass roof was replaced with a gabled lead equivalent in 2007.
Whilst the existing conservatory has established an acceptable precedent for development of a similar small, ancillary scale, we feel that the proposed ‘orangery’ extension constitutes inappropriate development due to the excessive increase in scale protruding beyond the original external solid walls of the listed building, and the use of materials out of keeping with the historic glasshouse and greenhouse use of this portion of the building.
Whilst the Heritage/D&A Statement claims that “the footprint of the proposal will be set back from the line of the existing bay windows on the east and south façade and sits within the confines of the recess”, the proposed extension actually extends beyond the established external wall line of both the east and south elevations, and does not utilise a recessed join to the southern wall to set the new addition further back from the bay window, as does the existing conservatory. The result is a cramped and awkward development which does not suitably align with the historic core of the building, in which the sharp junctions of the proposed orangery walls are ungainly and visually intrusive, in contrast with the recessed joins of the existing conservatory.
Whilst we acknowledge the intention for the orangery to be read as an alteration, we maintain any new additions should be suitably subservient in scale, position and design to minimise harm to the aesthetic and architectural interest of the rear elevation. The proposed extension instead pushes outwards to the south and east, and in conjunction with the proposed garden steps, challenges the visual prominence of the drawing room bay window as the central aesthetic point of focus within the southern facade.
Furthermore, the use of largely solid walls in Bath stone ashlar does not accord with the proposed extension’s description as an ‘orangery’. Previous structures on the south-east corner have been in glass, and have been visually ‘light touch’, modest additions to the main historic body of the building. Consequently, the proposed ‘orangery’ reads as a solid extension, and is aesthetically heavy and over-dominating with detriment to the readability of the rear extension’s fine detailing and vertical, pointed emphasis.
Therefore, whilst the principle of development is appropriate, we feel this proposal constitutes less than substantial harm to a listed building with no public benefit through the inappropriate use of materials and solid wall form, and incongruous, over dominant and intrusive scale of development. Any new structure on that site should follow a similar profile as established and retained from 1853, and therefore be made up of far more glass than the proposed new structure. We maintain it should read as a conservatory/glasshouse not as a primarily solid stone structure.
The design proposed in this application constitutes harm to the special historic and architectural interest of a listed building, and consequently neither preserves nor enhances the character or appearance 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, B4, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D5, D7, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.