4-4A Burton Street, City Centre, Bath
4-4a Burton form part of a group of Grade II early 19th century terraced dwellings, now in retail use featuring shopfronts at ground floor, situated within the commercial core of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the indicative streetscape setting of a high concentration of Grade II terraced buildings on Burton Street, Old Bond Street, and at the southern junction with Union Street/Upper Borough Walls. The ground floor shopfront at No. 4 clearly references its neighbour at No. 3 in its use of traditional detailing, including the dentilled fascia cornice and scrolled corbelling, indicative of their original construction as a pair (Historic England). The varied design of the shopfront at No. 4, combining a curved multi-pane shopfront window with a squared-off frontage and pair of double doors to the left of the central door, is likely indicative of a series of later alterations. The date of the original shopfront insertion is unclear, although it may have been in use as a grocer by the late 19th century (“GRO”, 1887-1902 Goard Insurance Plans).
The shop unit has been vacant since late 2020.
BPT therefore welcomes the opportunity to bring back an empty shop unit into use, with benefits including the ongoing maintenance and repair of a Grade II listed building and the reactivation of this area of streetscape, which would preserve and enhance the visual and public amenities of the conservation area.
In principle, we are unable to support the installation of illuminated signage. Bath is recognised as a low-illuminated city in which the maintained low levels of lighting complement the historic character and appearance of the city, and create a distinctive evening and night-time atmosphere. Therefore, the use of illuminated signage would be of detriment to the visual amenities of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and the special qualities of the World Heritage Site, and would be an over-dominant addition to the frontage of a listed building which would be of detriment to its special historic and architectural interest.
The application form indicates the proposed use of “metal and plexiglass orange letters on a glass background”, though this doesn’t appear to match with the proposals as presented in the elevational drawings. We maintain the use of acrylic or plastic-based signage would be inappropriate within this context, and would result in a jarring visual contrast with the traditional material qualities of the listed building. Considering the prominent use of hand-lettered signage within the historic city centre, with a large number of positive examples present along Old Bond Street, we maintain a strong preference for hand-painted signage across the fascia. Where the use of individually-pinned lettering is appropriately justified, we maintain that traditional materials such as timber or high-quality metal with an appropriate finish should be used to ensure the signage is coherent with the appearance and material integrity of the listed building.
Proposals for illuminated signage would be of harm to the special interest of a listed building without demonstration of public benefit, and would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. As such, this application is contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D8, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should therefore be refused or withdrawn.