18 – 19 Old Bond Street, City Centre, Bath
18-19 Old Bond Street are a terraced pair of Grade II late 18th century houses, now with a shared commercial/retail ground floor, situated within the commercial core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It contributes to the grouped value and streetscape setting of a high concentration of Grade II terraced buildings along Old Bond Street, Burton Street, and New 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 shopfront at 18-19 Old Bond Street runs full width along both buildings, and is attributed to 1932 (by Whinney, Son and Austen Hall), with Art Deco-style transom lights, fanlight, and glazed door surround. It positively contributes to the eclectic variety of traditional shop frontage designs visible along Old Bond Street.
Due to the building’s location within the commercial centre of the Bath conservation area, and retained use of traditional shop front vernacular, the shop frontage is expected to comply with relevant guidance regarding the appropriate use of materials, colours, and a lack of illuminated signage, in keeping with the wider historic character of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site.
BPT is supportive of the sensitive repainting of the shopfront in a matte finish. The proposed colour would be of a suitably discrete and neutral appearance.
We express a strong preference for the use of hand-painted signage across the fascia, which would sustain and enhance the traditional shopfront character and appearance of the conservation area. In particular, we refer to the distinctive character of hand-lettered and painted signage across Old Bond Street’s shopfronts, and consider this a strong and positive precedent to encourage similar forms of signage.
BPT typically discourages the excessive use of window vinyls or branding/advertisement signs. We therefore consider that the proposed use of window vinyls could be reduced to ensure a minimal finish to the shopfront; for instance, the vinyls in the window panes directly adjacent to the central door seem to be redundant and could be omitted.
BPT questions the justification for a hanging sign in this location. In its location, 18-19 Old Bond Street forms part of the critical junction between Milsom Street and the city centre, along which viewpoints have been retained 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 maintained as a clear visual thoroughfare where further additions such as hanging signs are not encouraged. We therefore maintain that due to the upper section of Old Bond Street participating in these significant streetscape views, we maintain a preference against the installation of a hanging sign.
Furthermore, the principal of the addition of a hanging sign at first floor level is unacceptable. B&NES Design & Conservation Guidance on commercial signage indicates that modern commercial signage at first floor level is considered inappropriate within the conservation area and should instead be constrained to ground floor level where Bath’s commercial character is more clearly defined. BPT further maintains that new hanging signs should avoid being fixed directly into the stonework, as this would result in irreversible loss of historic fabric without adequate demonstration of public benefit. Should the principle of a hanging sign be considered acceptable, this should be fixed to the timber fascia at ground floor level to mitigate the level of harm to historic fabric and the associated special interest of the listed building.
The proposed use of a PPC aluminium hanging sign board would be materially discordant within the conservation area and would not preserve or enhance its distinctive character. We maintain that hanging sign boards should be timber with a hand-painted finish.