One of the special characteristics of Bath’ street scene is its distinctive and varied use of historic shopfronts and traditional signage techniques, central to the characterisation of the city’s thriving city centre and aesthetic charm. The city has been able to develop its own ‘vernacular’ style reflected both in the city centre and local high streets such as Larkhall and Moorland Road. Whilst the addition of new shopping districts such as Southgate have introduced areas of more contemporary signage, there continues to be an expectation that signage should be high-quality and reflective of the wider historic character of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site.

The use of traditional materials and finishes when undertaking signage works – modern materials such as acrylic or vinyl are unlikely to be considered acceptable in this sensitive context characterised by the traditional palette of materials.

The use of illuminated signage, excessive external illumination or shop window illumination, or LED screens or digital advertisements is contrary to Bath’s low level lighting and dark skies character.

Free-standing street signage (eg. A-boards) tends to obstruct pavements and result in excessive visual clutter, and along with outdoor seating areas should be carefully managed to ensure an appropriate balance between the needs of the business and the visual amenities and access requirements of the street scene. Street furniture should adhere to the Bath Pattern Book.

The following principles should be considered when making decisions about signage, within the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and City of Bath World Heritage Site:

BPT1: The relevant planning and listed building consents for any type of signage, banner, awning and advertising should be sought prior to installation.

BPT2: Signage should be informed by an understanding of and respect for Bath’s historic environment and the special interest of listed buildings.

BPT3: Signage and advertising design and manufacture should always be bespoke, responding to both the street scene and the host building.

BPT4: Signage should be designed and installed with BPT’s General Guidance in mind, including appropriate materials, method, finish, amount, location and colour.

BPT’s published guidance Signs, Adverts, Banners and Awnings provides a recommended approach to signage within the city centre, as well as when considering works that may affect the appearance of a listed building. B&NES Council has also issued its own Design Guidance for Commercial Signage and Tables and Chairs on the Highway.

Examples of our planning responses to signage & advert proposals are available here, which can be used to inform what types of works may be considered acceptable within Bath’s central retail context.

For any further advice, you can contact us at