Schuh, 7 – 8 Stall Street, City Centre, Bath

External alterations to redecorate the existing shopfront in the current grey finish, with the addition of painting the centre fascia band black with new non-illuminated company signage.
Our Response

7-8 Stall Street is a pair of Grade II early 19th century terraced shops with residential upper floors, situated in the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of the city centre’s core with high pedestrian footfall, and consequently forms a significant visual aspect of Bath’s historic and commercial streetscape. It additionally forms the setting of multiple Grade II listed buildings along Stall Street, as well as the Grade I 34-36 Stall Street on the corner of Bath Street.

The shared ground floor shopfront across 7-8 Stall Street is indicated to be late 20th century, and as such is considered to have limited historic value with regard to its material age. However, it serves to reflect and reinforce the wider shopfront character and ‘vernacular’ of the Bath conservation area in its use of traditional-style materials and detailing.

We previously objected to previous application 22/02056/AR for signage proposals submitted 17/05/2022, on grounds of the use of acrylic-faced signage and associated visual harm to a listed building without appropriate justification or demonstration of public benefit. We acknowledge that improvements have been made including the omission of acrylic signage in favour of “non-illuminated 3D metal letters” as well as the overall reduction in signage size.

In line with our previous comments, we maintain that the proposed replacement of the existing ‘oval’ signage with new signage more in keeping with the established branding of the commercial frontage would be generally positive. However, whilst the principle of a more visually coherent advertising approach is not inappropriate in principle, we retain some concerns regarding the profile of the proposed replacement signage.

It is proposed to install “folded 1mm metal letters fixed to fascia with aluminium L bracket”; however, in the proposed sections the lettering is indicated to project 60mm from the fascia. It is therefore unclear as to whether there is a disparity in the proposed lettering thickness, or if the sections are instead reflective of the depth of letter projection. Of the latter, it therefore remains unclear as to why the signage may need to stand so proud of the shop frontage. We have previously noted concerns with the perceived increase in examples of projecting and box signage in this area, resulting in a jarring and over-dominant conflict between contemporary signage and their traditional shopfront context. We therefore strongly recommend consideration of lettering that sits increasingly flush with the shopfront and as such better integrates with the visual amenities of the buildings.

We continue to maintain a preference for the use of hand-lettered painted signage as a more traditional alternative that reinforces the visual amenities of the conservation area. This may be more appropriate to the ‘secondary’ nature of the proposed signage, reinforcing the existing signage already in place.

The addition of a “non-illuminated 3D metal stripe p/c green RAL 6038” (previously a “green acrylic stripe”) would still be a cluttering addition without any justification or demonstrated public benefit. The use of an overly bright colour would be a strident, jarring addition against the softer natural colour palette of the listed building and the wider character and appearance of the conservation area and World Heritage Site. This feature appears to be used on other Schuh shops elsewhere in the UK; however, we maintain the need for a bespoke approach to signage in Bath which is suitably sympathetic to the special visual amenities of the conservation area and the World Heritage Site. We therefore continue to recommend that this element is omitted from the signage proposals.

We note that proposals have now been revised to include the repainting of the whole shopfront in “black RAL 9005 Dulux Exterior Wood Paint”, in line with our previous comments expressing a preference for the use of a single colour across the whole frontage to maintain visual coherence. 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.

It is indicated that “the current tiled stall riser is cracked and needs to be replaced”. We maintain that there is a lack of information regarding the material and aesthetic finish of the proposed replacement and how this would look in situ, and encourage the submission of a relevant sample to better assess the degree of visual impact. Where the stall riser has already been tiled, it may be considered appropriate to paint this to match the above shopfront.

Whilst BPT recognises the design improvements that have been made, we maintain that proposals would continue to be of harm to the special interest of a listed building and would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area without demonstration of public benefit, contrary to the Planning (Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, BD1, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused or withdrawn.

Application Number: 22/02617/LBA
Application Date: 24/08/2022
Closing Date: 29/09/2022
Address: Schuh, 7 - 8 Stall Street, City Centre, Bath
Our Submission Status: Object