Carphone Warehouse, 20 Stall Street, City Centre, Bath
20 Stall Street is an unlisted terraced retail building, situated within the urban core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage. From map progression, it appears that a building of a similar footprint was present by the mid-19th century, but this likely underwent significant alteration in the mid-20th century to form the existing commercial floor plan of the building. It appears that similar remodelling works also occurred at 22 Stall Street, explaining their shared two storey commercial frontage with rusticated pilasters and a stone band course at second floor level. It forms the immediate setting of the Grade II mid-18th century 16-18 Lower Borough Walls to the west. The ground floor commercial frontage is overtly contemporary and therefore of little historic or aesthetic interest; however, the building does positively contribute to the commercial streetscape through the survival of painted street signs on its east (Stall Street) and south (Lower Borough Walls) frontages.
The commercial shopfront character and appearance of the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site is characterised by its retained vernacular appearance, use of traditional materials and construction methods, and bespoke design approach. Consequently, shop frontages are expected to adhere to planning guidance regarding the appropriate use of materials, colours, and a lack of illuminated signage, in keeping with the wider historic character of the city conservation area and World Heritage Site.
As a dual-faced corner site on the junction between two busy commercial thoroughfares, we highlight the aesthetic sensitivity of this building as part of the wider conservation area and World Heritage Site and the opportunity for sympathetic shopfront alterations that better reflect and reinforce its historic context.
BPT resists the principle 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 conservation area and the special qualities of the World Heritage site. The proposed volume of internally illuminated fascias across the building frontage is excessive and would have a cumulatively detrimental impact on the character of the area.
We are additionally opposed to the use of aluminium fascias and acrylic signage in the conservation area, which would be materially and visually at odds with the retained traditional shopfront character of the area. The proposed shopfront design is overly standardised and ‘anywhere’ in design, and therefore fails to reflect the special characteristics of Bath that typically requires a more careful, bespoke approach. We therefore strongly recommend that an alternative, more appropriate form of signage is considered – the use of hand-painted lettering, or quality metal lettering in an appropriate finish would better preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.
The proposed colour scheme is overly strident and busy against the more muted, natural colour palette of the streetscape dictated by the prominent use of Bath stone. A design that uses softer colours in keeping with the Bath Pattern Book is preferable. We continue to recommend a more minimal treatment across this extensive shopfront to avoid visual over cluttering, possibly by removing the ‘EE’ logo from several fascias.
We maintain that as proposed, the harm to the conservation area would not be appropriately justified by public benefit. A more sympathetic approach to signage has not been suitably demonstrated. This application is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D8, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan, and should be withdrawn or refused.