Jessops, 6 Southgate Street, City Centre, Bath
6 Southgate Street is an unlisted shop premises within the commercial core of the Bath Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the 2009-2010 Southgate development, utilising a distinctly Georgian-esque style of architectural design. Due to its centralised location within the city’s historic centre, alterations to the shop frontage is expected to conform to 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.
It is proposed to install a new fascia in “Nichiha cladding”; this is a fibre cement cladding which would be finished in a wood effect (“Vintage Wood Cedar”). We consider this would be a materially inappropriate intervention, at odds with the traditional character of Bath’s timber shop fronts, and would not preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. The use of a faux-timber material would not suitably replicate the visual or material qualities of a genuine timber fascia, and would result in a jarring contrast with the visual amenities of the streetscape. It is unclear as to why the existing fascia could not be retained and repainted in situ, which would be more in keeping with the traditional shop front character of the conservation area. The proposed replacement fascia in its current design would not be considered acceptable and should be omitted or suitably amended.
BPT is further opposed to the use of internally-illuminated acrylic-faced signage in the conservation area. This type of signage tends to be overly chunky and heavy in appearance, and is of a distinct material contrast with the traditional material usage in this area. In the interest of visual amenity, we strongly recommend an alternative, more appropriate form of signage is considered – the use of hand-painted lettering, or quality metal lettering in an appropriate finish would be a quality harmonious with the heritage character of Bath’s historic shopping streets.
We similarly oppose the installation of a “fully moulded polycarbonate logo” projecting sign. We acknowledge the proliferation of projecting, contemporary signage in this area, which we consider to be of cumulative detriment to the cohesive, traditional character of Bath’s shop fronts. We therefore strongly encourage consideration of a hand-painted sign to reinforce local distinctiveness and preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. The internally illuminated aspect of the projecting sign would not be appropriate and should be omitted.
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.
We question the proposed use of “opal acrylic, 5mm thick, individual letters adhered to the outside of the glass” of the front door fanlight. The application of acrylic lettering would be of further detriment to the building, and the use of an external adhesive would likely result in letters peeling away or falling off in the future. Where the need for additional signage has not been appropriately justified, we recommend that this aspect of the scheme is omitted, or more acceptable alternatives are considered such as the use of an internally-applied window vinyl.
Overall, we are disappointed by the apparent use of a generic and standardised shop front treatment where something more bespoke to the special qualities of the Bath city centre would be strongly encouraged.
Harm to the visual amenity value of conservation area has not been demonstrably justified or outweighed by public benefit.
This proposal 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 the application should be withdrawn or refused.