Widcombe Villa, 2 Church Street, Widcombe, Bath
2 Church Street is a Grade II late 18th – early 19th century semi-detached dwelling situated within the Widcombe character area of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms one half of a mismatched pair with the separately-listed Grade II early 19th century Somerset House. It forms part of the setting for a series of listed terraces within this enclosed streetscape including 1-6 Widcombe Terrace (Grade II*) 3-12 Church Street (Grade II), and the garden of Crowe Hall (Grade II). 2 Church Street is a slender two bay example of a classical townhouse in Bath stone ashlar, which has been somewhat overshadowed by the more prominent, sprawling façade and Greek Revivalist architecture of the adjoining Somerset House. Both buildings are set back from the streetscape within generous private gardens and have a sense of being situated ‘behind’ the adjacent terraces. Due to this set back, the pair of dwellings is placed in a prominent position on the north-south slope towards Lyncombe Vale and Perrymead. Due the retained scale of their garden setting, they are largely unobscured by later development and as such retain strong sightlines with Bath’s landscape setting to the south and south-east.
In the light of the declared Climate Emergency, BPT is generally supportive of retrofit measures that protect elements that contribute to the special architectural and historic interest of a listed building. Alterations are expected to be visually coherent with the character of the building, and the wider shared character of the listed terrace and surrounding conservation area.
We are generally supportive of the installation of PV panels where this would not significantly compromise historic fabric or the distinctive character and appearance of the historic environment. However, we have some concerns regarding the visual impact on landscape views and the terraced roofscape character of the area, due to proposals to mount PV panels on the external southern roof slope. Therefore, we strongly recommend that further design details of the proposed panels are submitted as part of this application to ensure a non-intrusive appearance and finish in accordance with Policy SCR2 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan. We suggest that PV panels should be monochrome with a matt finish to minimise reflectivity and associated sun glare, and should sit as flush with the roof slope as possible. Where possible, consideration of how the scheme would fit into wider contextual views and possible key viewpoints is encouraged.
We note that as part of the scheme, it is proposed to replace the existing fibre cement roof covering with natural slates, of which we are supportive. However, the replacement of the roof covering raises the possibility of more innovative design and technological solutions for low carbon energy generation, such as the use of solar tiles which remain as yet a largely untested alternative within Bath.
Alternatively, the installation of PV panels could be more closely integrated with the re-roofing works, allowing for the panels to sit flush with the roof surface and further mitigate possible visual impact. However, we maintain this would need to be more closely considered in relation to how this would affect the underlying roof structure.
BPT is very interested in working with the applicant to reach an acceptable solution.