Bath is an exceptional city and Stadium for Bath has recognised the historic,
architectural and cultural context of the City throughout the design process.
Stadium for Bath appointed independent heritage expert Peter Stewart to lead the definition of the heritage philosophy for this project, along with key stakeholders, and to provide guidance and challenge to the project team regarding heritage considerations.
The City of Bath was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987. According to the World Heritage convention, World Heritage sites can be ‘Cultural Heritage’ or ‘Natural Heritage’. Cultural heritage can be monuments or structures, groups of structures or they can be whole sites where the special interest arises from the ‘historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological’ characteristics of the whole area. This is the case in Bath and so, unusually, the whole city forms part of the World Heritage Site.
When a structure, place or site becomes a World Heritage Site the reasons for inclusion are defined as its ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ (OUV), meaning the characteristics of that are internationally exceptional and of common importance for present and future generations.
The principal historic environment designations and associated documentation, relevant to the site are set out below.
Policies and guidance for the World Heritage Site are set out in two principal documents:
- City of Bath World Heritage Site Management Plans, 2010-2022
- City of Bath World Heritage Site Setting Supplementary Planning Document, August 2013.
- An updated version of the World Heritage Site Management Plan, 2016-2022, has been endorsed by the Council for submission to Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and then to UNESCO.
The significance of the World Heritage Site is set out in a Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). The principal aspects of the OUV of Bath can be summarised as:
- The Roman remains, especially the Temple of Sulis Minerva and the baths complex are amongst the most famous and important Roman remains north of the Alps, and marked the beginning of Bath’s history as a spa town.
- The Georgian city reflects the ambitions of John Wood Senior (1704-1754), Ralph Allen (1693-1764) and Richard ‘Beau’ Nash (1674-1761) to make Bath into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with architecture and landscape combined harmoniously for the enjoyment of the spa town’s cure takers.
- The Neo-classical style of the public buildings (such as the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room) harmonises with the grandiose proportions of the monumental ensembles (such as Queen Square, Circus and Royal Crescent) and collectively reflects the ambitions, particularly social, of the spa city in the 18th century.
- The individual Georgian buildings reflect the profound influence of Palladio (1508-1580). The collective scale, style and the organisation of the spaces between buildings epitomises the success of architects such as John Woods (elder 1704-1754, younger 1728-1782), Robert Adam (1728-1792), Thomas Baldwin (1750-1820) and John Palmer (1738-1817) in transposing Palladio’s ideas to the scale of a complete city, situated in a hollow in the hills and built to a picturesque landscape aestheticism creating a strong garden city feel, more akin to the 19th century garden cities than the 17th century Renaissance cities.
BATH CONSERVATION AREA
Like the World Heritage Site, the Bath Conservation Area covers most of the City and some of the undeveloped area around it, although its boundary is different from that of the World Heritage Site.
There is a Bath city-wide Character Appraisal 2005 which covers the whole of the Conservation Area; more recently the Council have produced more detailed appraisals for sub-areas of the Conservation Area of which several are relevant to the Rec and its setting. These include Pulteney Road (which covers the Rec) City Centre, and Bathwick.
The Pulteney Road appraisal states of the existing rugby ground stands that, ‘Their scale and materials make a negative contribution to the highly sensitive environs of Great Pulteney Street, Pulteney Bridge and the riverside setting of Bath Abbey. At the same time their social significance and contribution to the sporting life of Bath is recognised. Sports buildings of this type are rarely of more than utilitarian design and materials.’
However, it goes on to state that, ‘Proposed development work to Bath Rugby Club’s facilities at the Rec offers the opportunity for new architecture which may enhance the special qualities of the surroundings rather than working against them.’
The Rec is an aspect of the setting of many listed buildings in the area around the site, including some highly-graded buildings. Some of the important ones for the project will be:
- Pulteney Bridge (Grade I)
- Bath Abbey (Grade I)
- Houses in Johnstone Street (Grade I)
- Presidents’ Lounge (Grade II)
- William Street turnstiles (Grade II)
- The Pavilion (Grade II)
- North Parade Bridge
REGISTERED PARKS AND GARDENS
The site lies across the river from the Grade II registered Parade Gardens.