4 Union Street, City Centre, Bath
4 Union Street forms part of a Grade II section of early 19th century terrace with commercial ground floors and shopfronts, situated within the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. This section of the terrace is 3 ½ storeys and is a fairly modest example of the later Georgian terraced form in Bath stone ashlar, although now painted over. However, it marks a slightly unusual and unbalanced feature within the city centre due to the asymmetrical emphasis of the upper floor window cornice heads on 4 and 5 Union Street on the left hand side, and the irregular positioning of the sunken horizontal panels above first floor level. This may have been replicated at 3 Union Street, but the windows at first floor level have since been replaced with incongruous casement windows. 3 Union Street features a set-forward bay framed with a recessed pilaster, but this is not balanced by a matching bay to the northern end, and is instead indicative of either a lost section of the original terrace, or part of the original design which was not completed. It would have likely replicated the interconnected form of terraced buildings at 16-19 Union Street.
The ground floor shopfront at 4 Union Street is dated to the 20th century and appears to date to at least the 1930s based on historic photographs. Whilst of lesser material and historic significance due to its age, the multi-pane glazed shopfront remains an attractive and visually coherent feature within Bath’s historic and commercial streetscape. It contributes to the architecturally diverse forms of Bath’s traditional and historic shopfronts.
Due to the listed 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.
We therefore have strong concerns regarding the proposed signage. The proposed timber fascia would replace the finely articulated transom lights and disrupt the existing, elegant balance of the shopfront. Whilst it is appreciated that the existing fascia is constrained in scale, this does not appropriately justify the harm proposed to the traditional characteristics of the shopfront and its fine aesthetic contribution to the special interest of the listed building. The proposed timber lettering would be overly chunky and heavy in appearance. Cumulatively, the proposed fascia and lettering would sharply contrast with the retained fineness and lightness of the shopfront, and would consequently be of harm to the visual amenities of the conservation area and the listed building.
We strongly recommend that new signage is hand-painted in keeping with neighbouring shopfront character and the existing treatment of this shopfront.
The principle of a metal projecting sign in an overtly contemporary style is inappropriate. Part of the distinctive commercial character of the conservation area is defined by its use of traditional timber hand-painted hanging signs on decorative wrought iron hanging brackets. A more bespoke approach is required to appropriately reflect and sustain the existing character of the area, and we therefore strongly recommend that a more traditional hanging signage typology is referenced.
We maintain that the use of a ‘brilliant’ or ‘pure’ white would be too brash of an aesthetic treatment against the more natural, muted colours of the conservation area and the Bath stone façade of a listed building; an off-white or cream with a matt finish would be considered more acceptable.
The repainting of the doors in bright yellow creates an unwelcome contrast across the frontage, and it is instead recommended to repaint the frontage in one colour to ensure a more coherent, calmer appearance.
Colours are expected to harmonise with the material and colour palette of the conservation area. In this setting, bold and jarring colours such as bright yellow are not considered acceptable, and the consideration of more muted or heritage colour samples is recommended.
This application would not preserve or enhance the appearance of the conservation area and would be of detriment to the special interest of a listed building, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be refused or withdrawn.