Hilton National Hotel, Walcot Street
Our concerns cover the extent of the lighting proposed, and the amount and type of signage. Whilst we understand the imperative to rebrand and refurbish this hotel, we question whether the proposals are sensitive enough to not impact harmfully given its location within the historic core of the World Heritage Site and adjacent to multiple heritage assets.
Whilst we are not lighting experts, we question whether the overall lighting scheme for the front elevation is excessive in a city where light levels are generally lower; in particular the wall wash effect is worrying. We are concerned that the hotel will be lit up like a beacon, with a good deal of light spillage and light pollution, therefore harming the distinct night time ambience and character of the city centre. We recommend the case officer conduct a site visit after dark to ascertain the current level of and impact of lighting on the local area and how potentially a significant increase in that lighting would also impact on visual and residential amenity.
Turning to the signage, we regret the increase in size and amount of the signage, the proposed acrylic facing material and the illumination of the lettering. The overall effect, with the proposed lighting of both the façade, the ground floor canopy lights, uplights and downlights, the wall lanterns and the lettering, will be overly cluttered. We recommend that the size of the lettering be reduced, and that if illumination is to be agreed, then external illumination is considered as a more appropriate method than internal halo lighting which can produce a low quality aesthetic that would be at odds with and therefore detract from the special character of this part of the conservation area.
The proposed amount of lighting to the façade, the amount of signage and its internal illumination would neither preserve nor enhance the special interest of multiple nearby listed buildings and would fail to maintain or enhance the character of the conservation area. It would therefore detract from the special qualities of the WHS. The scheme would be contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 (Conserving and Enhancing the Historic Environment) of the NPPF, policies B1, B4, and CP6 of the B&NES Core Strategy and policies CP6, D9, D8, HE1, BD1, B.4, of the Placemaking Plan. We would therefore recommend the application be amended or refused.