14 Old Bond Street, City Centre, Bath
14 Old Bond Street forms part of a series of Grade II late 18th century terraced houses with commercial ground floors, 14-17 Old Bond Street, situated within the commercial core of the Bath Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It contributes to the terraced setting and grouped value of a high concentration of Grade II listed buildings at 5-10 and 12-13 Old Bond Street, and forms part of the approach connecting with the significant 19th century shopping street of Milsom Street, where the majority of buildings are now individually Grade II or Grade II* listed. The ground floor forms a mid-20th century double bow shop front designed by Earnest Tew, which is of an unusual and attractive appearance that complements the eclectic variety of traditional shop frontage designs visible along Old Bond Street.
As there would not be any changes to the existing colour scheme and finish of the shopfront the proposed repainting works to the shopfront and fascia would be appropriate. Whilst the replication of the shop brand name across both of the bow windows initially seems somewhat excessive with little justification, there are precedents for this type of signage across the double bow frontage adjacent in the 1960s and 70s (see Bath in Time 15988 & 47669).
The proposed addition of a flag pole and advertisement flag over the front door, would have an impact on the established special historic and architectural character of the listed building, and the wider character and appearance of the conservation area.
We refer to our own guidance Signs, Adverts, Banners and Awnings, in which we emphasise that “unless there is significant historical precedent, flags are rarely acceptable as they dominate and compete with building facades, add clutter to elevations, block long street views and also detract from the setting of other listed buildings. Heavy flag fixings associated with flag poles damage historic fabric.” This is reinforced in B&NES Council’s own guidance on commercial signage and tables and chairs on the highway, where they summarise that “commercial flag signage will be considered inappropriate on listed buildings.”
We further question the justification for projecting flag sign in this location, where the retail streetscape forms part of the contextual continuation of sightlines down from Milsom Street towards the city centre, and in this case framing views between the high pavement at George’s Buildings southwards towards Stall Street, the Mineral Hospital, and the wooded landscape backdrop around the Widcombe area. This has largely been retained as a clear visual thoroughfare where further additions such as hanging signs are not encouraged. Where the Old Bond Street commercial frontage cumulatively contributes to these significant streetscape views, it is therefore preferable to avoid the installation of projecting or hanging signage where this may visually clutter key sightlines through the conservation area.
Furthermore there appears to be an error in the drawings; a flagpole is shown mounted in situ on the existing drawing, when this is clearly not the case in the photograph provided. We recommend that this is clarified to avoid confusion.
We therefore conclude that proposals for flag signage would be inappropriate in principle and detract from the appearance of the listed building, and should be omitted.
The proposed flag sign would result in minor adverse harm to the appearance and special interest of a listed building with no overriding justification or public benefit, would be of detriment to the visual amenities of the streetscape, and would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, B4, D1, D2, D3, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.