Sofa Workshop, 21 Milsom Street, City Centre, Bath
21 Milsom Street forms part of a Grade II mid-18th century terrace at 2-22 Milsom Street, situated within the commercial core of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. Milsom Street remains a highly significant historic retail streetscape, though originally residential, representative of large-scale Georgian town planning with the creation of intentional sightlines into the city centre. 21 Milsom Street’s significance is largely derived from its aesthetic contribution to the wider conservation area and World Heritage Site, and its architectural consistency throughout the rest of the terrace. The ground floor shopfront is attributed to c.1911 and is characteristic of a number of designed traditional shopfront typologies elsewhere along Milsom Street in which the shop entrance is set at a depth back from the street between flanking shop window bays.
Given the terrace’s centralised location within the city’s historic centre and retained use of traditional shop front vernacular, the shop frontage should comply with B&NES Council guidance ‘Commercial signage and tables and chairs on the highway’ regarding the appropriate use of materials, colours, and finishes.
This application has been submitted to accompany application 23/01122/AR for the same proposals regarding the redecoration of the shopfront and the addition of a new projecting sign. BPT has set out an-principle position against hanging and projecting signage along Milsom Street.
The repainting of the shopfront as stated is a generally appropriate and the use of a matte or eggshell finish, rather than gloss, is encouraged as a more heritage sensitive option given its non-shiny appearance.
While the most appropriate approach to facia signage for listed buildings in the conservation area would be hand-painted, the proposed use of “stainless steel” pinned signage to the timber fascia is generally unobtrusive and acceptable, pending submission of further details regarding the proposed material appearance and finish of the lettering, as well as proposed means of fixing. Considering the shop’s context as part of a historic shopping street where traditional shop frontage elements such as hand-lettered painted signage have been sustained, there is an opportunity to better reference and reinforce the visual amenity of the local street scene by considering options for hand-lettered signage.
The use of applied synthetic vinyl for the secondary signage on the northern end of the fascia would be a materially unsympathetic addition to the frontage of a listed building. We recommend this aspect of the application is omitted, or a traditional alternative is considered such as the use of hand-painted lettering to supplement the primary signage.
We note that revisions to the scheme have been made since our previous consultation response was submitted. The design of the projecting sign has been revised to a more traditional design, either in “painted timber or stove enamelled metal”, that would be hung from a traditional metal bracket. Where the hanging sign was proposed to be fixed at first floor level, this has been subsequently amended to be fixed at fascia level. The proposed changes have addressed our initial concerns regarding the use of a modern-style projecting metal sign which would be incompatible with the shopfront vernacular of the conservation area, and the proposed design is now far more sympathetic to its historic context.
Nonetheless, we maintain our resistance to the principle of a hanging sign in this location, where this would have an adverse impact to the planned, homogenous form and layout of the Milsom Street ‘ensemble’ and intrude into longer-range townscape views maintained along Milsom Street between Edgar Buildings towards Union Street. The addition of a hanging sign risks further, similar additions and the cumulative cluttering of this sensitive, highly significant streetscape.
Milsom Street forms a significant 18th century set piece with framed north-south views between the elevated pavement of Edgar Buildings and the shops at Old Bond Street, backed by receding hillside views in the distance. It is therefore attributed high significance as a well-planned Georgian ensemble, strongly defined as an intentional visual connector between the upper and lower town, and well-articulated Palladian detailing.
The addition of a hanging sign would therefore clutter the uniform classical façade and intrude into the sweeping views of the street, with harm to the special group value of the streetscape. The sign would not improve the appearance of the principal elevation of the building and therefore not enhance the character of the street scene.
The proposed signage would harm the heritage significance, group value and setting of the listed building, and would neither preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation areas. This proposal is therefore contrary to the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, Section 16 of the NPPF, and Policies B1, B4, CP6, D1, D2, D3, D9, and HE1 of the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan and should be refused.