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Breathing New Life into Bath's Historic Buildings

James Drudge, Associate at Knight Frank’s Bath new homes team

As one of the world's most beautifully preserved Georgian cities, Bath's stunning architecture and rich history draw visitors from around the globe. However, maintaining the city's heritage while adapting to modern needs is an ongoing challenge. Fortunately, changes to permitted development rights have opened up new avenues for revitalizing neglected commercial properties through residential conversions. 

Having spent nearly a decade assisting buyers in finding their dream new-build homes across Bath, I've witnessed firsthand the positive impact these policy changes have had on our city. By allowing developers to convert unviable office buildings into residential accommodations, we've given numerous abandoned structures a vibrant new purpose.

One of the most striking examples is Neptune's redevelopment of the former Tramshed building on Walcot Street. 

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While the rear section had previously been converted to apartments, the iconic front portion sat vacant as office space cycled through a series of short-lived commercial tenants. Today, the ground floor houses Neptune's stylish showroom, while the upper levels offer chic city living - reviving not just the building itself, but the entire Beehive Yard area with increased foot traffic.

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This success story is far from unique. Bath's residential market has seen a flurry of similar projects in recent years, with developers snapping up properties like 12-13 Queen Square, part of Holy Trinity Church, and 6-7 Trim Street - all scheduled for conversion into a mix of townhouses, apartments, and thoughtfully preserved historic character.

While any loss of greenfield space understandably sparks debate, the ability to adaptively reuse existing urban fabric is an infinitely more palatable solution. By retaining original features and accommodating modern lifestyles within our centuries-old cityscape, we strike a balance between preservation and progress.

 

In addition to bringing these buildings back to life again, it has also rejuvenated the city centre with a buzz and vibrancy outside of working hours, breathing new life into the heart of Bath. The increased foot traffic and round-the-clock activity cultivates a sense of connectedness and community. Gone are the days when Bath's city centre felt like a ghost town after the morning commuters departed - now it's a lively, engaging environment beyond offices hours.

With high demand for properties in the Bath region, creative solutions like these conversions are vital to keeping the market affordable and accessible. These policy changes have empowered us to celebrate our heritage not as museum pieces, but as living, evolving canvases for 21st century placemaking. By continuing to embrace adaptive reuse, we ensure Bath's timeless beauty remains not just a product of the past, but a foundation for remarkable things still to come.

Knight Frank Bath Estate Agents

4 Wood Street, Bath

BA1 2JQ 

01225 805228

www.knightfrank.co.uk

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