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.
The proposed redecoration of the existing shopfront in a subdued, dark blue colour is considered to be acceptable; there is a preference for the frontage to be finished in matte or eggshell, rather than gloss, to mitigate against an overly shiny or reflective 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 acceptable, pending submission of further details regarding the proposed appearance and finish of the lettering, as well as proposed means of fixing. BPT is generally supportive of the use of metal pinned lettering in an appropriate quality finish. 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 more appropriate alternative is considered such as the use of hand-painted lettering to supplement the primary signage.
The principle of a new “projection sign” in this location, should be resisted by the LPA, in the interests of preserving and enhancing the character of the street scene. The cumulative addition of hanging and projecting signage would result in 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. A projecting sign would therefore harm the architectural and aesthetic significance of the listed building and the setting of other listed buildings, and would not preserve or enhance the appearance or character of the conservation area.
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 projecting 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 use of a modern-style projecting sign comprised of a “stainless steel rim and return box” would not be compatible with the tradition of hand-painted hanging signage in Bath’s historic core and would be a further jarring addition to a listed building, and the shared visual amenity value of its wider terraced setting. There are no appropriate comparisons for this style of signage along Milsom Street.
We therefore maintain the proposed projecting sign would be an inappropriate addition that would damage the compositional group value, historic views and overall setting of Milsom Street.
This signage as proposed by virtue of appropriate materials and appearance would harm the significance of the listed building, its group value and setting and neither preserve nor enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area, and would harm the visual amenity value of the street scene.
The 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.