4 Cheap Street, City Centre
4 Cheap Street forms part of a Grade II late 19th century section of terraced shops with upper floor accommodation, situated within the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. The wider terrace of 3-6 Cheap Street is defined by its homogenous, balanced Bath stone ashlar façade with an architrave surround on the central first floor sash window and original pilastered detailing on the commercial ground floor to delineate each building’s shopfront. 4 Cheap Street is situated directly adjacent to the Grade II late 18th century shop-fronted terrace at 15-20 Cheap Street and forms part of their contextual setting.
The proposed repainting works to the shopfront are acceptable. The proposed paint finish has not been detailed as part of this application; we recommend a matte or eggshell finish instead of gloss to mitigate against an overly shiny or reflective appearance.
Whilst there is a lack of available historic photographs of the building, it is noted that the commercial frontages along Cheap Street have a consistent fascia line, in line with the scroll of the stone corbels at 3, 5, and 6 Cheap Street. The existing fascia at 4 Cheap Street has dropped below this established horizontal emphasis whilst also lacking the moulding detail along the fascia bottom, indicating that this is an incongruous later addition. Proposals for a new timber fascia to replicate the adjoining frontages would therefore reinstate the homogenous line of Cheap Street’s commercial streetscape and enhance the group value of a Grade II terrace.
We are supportive of the proposed installation of a timber, hand-painted hanging sign. The sign would use the existing bracket at first floor level and as such there would be no material impact on historic fabric.
BPT is not opposed to the use of the fixing of metal lettering to the fascia where this is of a quality and finish appropriate to the special interest of a listed building. We consider that the use of lettering with a slimmer profile would be preferable to ensure that signage would appropriately integrate with the established shopfront, rather than being visually over-dominant or heavy in size. We consider that the previous signage in use was overly chunky and projected out from the fascia with resulting harm to the visual amenities of the streetscape and the appearance of a listed building; we would not consider this previous example of signage to set an acceptable precedent.
We do not oppose the principle of the installation of a traditional awning, but we recommend that a more subdued awning colour is selected that integrates with, rather than contrasts against, the colour palette for the proposed shopfront redecoration works. BPT generally favours the use of a plain awning without the addition of branding that can have a cluttering impact on the appearance of a shopfront. When not in use, awnings should be retracted.
However, we regret proposals for the installation of 4x spotlights on the fascia. BPT is resistant to the principle of illuminated signage, which would be contrary to Bath’s low-level lighting and distinctive night time character, and would be of harm to the appearance of a Grade II building. We do not agree that the addition of the proposed spotlights would be “discrete” as claimed in the D&A Statement. This would be an intrusive addition at odds with the established signage and lighting character of the conservation area, and would not be sufficiently justified by public benefit considering the central position of the shop unit on a busy thoroughfare within the historic city centre. We therefore strongly encourage that the proposed illumination should be omitted from this application.