1 Lower Borough Walls, City Centre, Bath
1 Lower Borough Walls is an unlisted retail unit situated within the commercial core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. 1 Lower Borough Walls forms part of a segment of three single storey retail units that form a later, likely late 20th century, addition to the historic streetscape that may be attributed to areas of reconstruction following significant bomb damage. This section of shops adjoin the junction between the Stall Street and the later Southgate development, but also form part of the streetscape setting of the terraced Grade II 5 Lower Borough Walls and the Grade II 6 Upper Borough Walls immediately to the west. It is acknowledged that as later additions, these units are of neutral architectural or historic value; the single storey intervention of the streetscape is further out of keeping with the traditional roofline, profile, and massing as defined throughout the city centre. However, as part of Bath’s commercial core, there is a positive opportunity for the use of thoughtful and sympathetic shopfront design to more strongly reflect and enhance the traditional shopfront appearance and character within the conservation area and World Heritage Site.
We maintain that shop frontages are expected to adhere to regulated planning guidance regarding the appropriate use of materials, colours, and a lack of illuminated signage within the city centre, in keeping with the wider historic character and shopfront vernacular of the city conservation area and World Heritage Site.
We are therefore unable to support this application on the grounds of the use of inappropriate materials which would fail to preserve or enhance the appearance and character of the conservation area. We maintain that the use of acrylic lettering within the conservation area is inappropriate and would be of detriment to the traditional material palette of the streetscape. The use of gloss tiles across the fascia would be an alien addition to the area without appropriate contextual reference, and would therefore fail to sustain or reinforce local distinctiveness.
We maintain a strong preference for the use of a timber fascia with either hand-lettered signage or where necessary quality timber or metal lettering in an appropriate style, colour, and finish.
The use of an acrylic projecting box sign is not appropriate within this location, and is more indicative of highly contemporary signage seen in the Southgate area. It is not compatible with the tradition of hand-painted hanging signage in Bath’s historic core. We strongly recommend that should a projecting sign be considered necessary, a hand-painted sign is considered with a bespoke metal bracket to reinforce local distinctiveness and preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.
It is unclear as to whether illuminated signage is proposed as part of this application. Whilst the proposed projecting sign is indicated to be “non-illuminated” in drawing no. CBH05-MCB-A, the proposed shopfront CGI included as part of the Advertisement Impact Assessment specifies the use of an “internally illuminated projecting sign”. BPT maintains that it strongly opposes the principle of illuminated signage, which would be contrary to Bath’s low-level lighting and distinctive night time character, and therefore of harm to the shared character and appearance of the conservation area. This aspect of the scheme needs to be clarify and we call for any proposed illuminated signage to be omitted from proposals.
This application would not preserve or enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area, and is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.