Widcombe Baptist Church, Ebenezer Terrace, Widcombe, Bath
Widcombe Baptist Church is a Grade II early 19th century Baptist chapel situated within the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The historic core of the building dates to 1820 and overlooks the Kennet and Avon canal to the north with a distinctive crenelated Bath stone façade and pointed head sash windows adjoining Ebenezer Terrace to the west. The eastern wing of the building is a later extension dating to 1910 which now wraps around the north-east corner of the site looking onto St Matthew’s Place. Originally, the chapel was accessed via the north entrance, but this has reverted to the south elevation following the extension of the building and creation of a new entrance accessible from the car park in 1980. The focus of the proposal is on the timber windows on the south elevation, likely part of the 1910 extension to the chapel, oversailing the single storey late 20th century extension to the south. The windows are suggested to be of modern, early 20th century construction in softwood and single glazing, and are currently in a poor condition.
We acknowledge that the repairs of the windows as existing is not possible and therefore the principle of replacement in a like-for-like style and proportion is acceptable to maintain the appearance and material health of a listed building.
We therefore feel that this necessary window replacement offers a positive opportunity for replacement with slimlite equivalents. Considering the declared Climate Emergency, it is crucial to find an equilibrium between reduced CO2 emissions and the conservation of traditional building details and historic fabric, as well as ensuring the future sustainability and use of historic buildings whilst resulting in a less than substantial harm to a Grade II listed building. Whilst fairly visually prominent in public views from St Matthew’s Place and the west end of Claverton Street, the windows are situated on the south elevation and therefore do not feature in the chapel’s principal façade, and are additionally located in the later Edwardian wing, which is of comparatively lesser historic significance to the early 19th century core. The south elevation has already undergone significant late 20th century alterations. Replacement would therefore result in less than substantial harm to a listed building.
However, we recommend that further details are provided, such as the fenestration thickness of both the existing and proposed windows to further outline the scale of change for the benefit of assessment by the case officer.
We continue to emphasise the need for the consideration of a ‘whole building’ approach to ensure the implementation of other energy saving measures are undertaken in support of major retrofits.