21 Old Bond Street, City Centre, Bath
21 Old Bond Street forms part of a Grade II pair of terraced houses, now converted to shop and office use, 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 and Grade II* terraced buildings along Old Bond Street, Quiet Street, and New Bond Street. Old Bond Street forms a significant connector with the 19th century shopping street of Milsom Street, where the majority of buildings are now individually Grade II or Grade II* listed. 21 Old Bond Street is set on the terrace end, forming the corner junction with Quiet Street, and as such is of relatively strong visibility as part of the townscape extension of Milsom Street into the historic city centre. No. 21 was significantly altered in the 20th century through the addition of a rusticated granite shopfront at ground floor level with arched windows running at regular intervals on the north and east elevations. It therefore may be concluded that the ground floor shopfront is of lesser significance to the recognised special historic and architectural interest of thre listed building as a later, 20th century alteration, although it does remain a relatively distinctive form of shop frontage treatment which draws from other, similar architectural examples such as the Grade II listed No. 47 Milsom Street adjacent (ground floor alterations likely attributed to c.1897). The building was indicated to have been in use as a bank in the 1887-1902 Goad Insurance Plans.
The principle of pinned lettering to the frontage of this building is considered to have a historic precedent, drawing from examples of similar signage in the 1930s (Bath in Time, no. 22076). Where the lettering would be pinned to the ground floor frontage, this would require fixing to the 20th century granite facing and would therefore be of limited material impact to historic fabric. However, based on historic photographs from the 1930s and the 1990s, pinned signage appears to have been restricted to the band above the cornicing. This was also the location of pre-existing Nationwide signage up until 2017, of which the fixing points are still visible. We therefore recommend revisions to the proposed scheme to relocate the proposed pinned signage to the stone band to align with historic principles of signage on this particular shop frontage. This would also allow for the reuse of existing fixing points and would avoid the potential cluttering of the rusticated detailing around the window arches.
However, we consider the proposed use of acrylic-faced lettering to be inappropriate to the traditional appearance and finish of a listed building, and the wider character and appearance of the conservation area. We are resistant to the introduction of more overtly modern materials such as acrylic and plastic which provide an unwelcome, unsympathetic contrast with the established character and appearance of the area. We strongly recommend consideration of alternative, more compatible signage finishes, such as the use of high-quality metal or timber lettering in an appropriately complementary colour and finish.
BPT questions the justification for a projecting sign in this location. In its location, 21 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 projecting sign.
Should the principle of a projecting sign be considered acceptable, we maintain a strong preference for a traditional-style hanging sign with the use of a bespoke signage bracket, to reference and reinforce the established signage ‘vernacular’ of the conservation area. We maintain the use of an acrylic-faced sign is not appropriate; hanging signs should be hand-painted timber instead.
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.
We recommend the number of applied window vinyls is kept to a minimum to ensure a light touch that does not distract from the wider shop frontage.
We maintain some concerns regarding the proposed volume of “graphic lightbox[es]” within the windows, and the resulting impact this could have on the wider streetscape. Whilst we recognise that lightboxes typically come under deemed consent and therefore does not fall within the remit of this application, we strongly recommend that the impact of the increased volume of illumination is considered in relation to Bath’s distinctive night-time character. The use of bright or overly animated graphics would further distract from the appearance of a listed building and the visual amenities of the wider streetscape. We therefore suggest that impact may be mitigated through either the complete omission, or a reduced number, of lightboxes. Alternatives may also include ensuring that the boxes operate at a suitably low lux level, graphics are restrained to a simple, non-flashing format to reduce strobing, etc., and the lightboxes could be switched off at night to minimise light pollution.
We maintain the proposed use of acrylic signage would be at odds with the special character of a listed building and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.