Tobar Group Trading, 40 Stall Street, City Centre, Bath
40 Stall Street is an unlisted commercial unit that forms part of the late 20th century Arlington House development, situated within the commercial core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage Site. 40 Stall Street is comprised of a 2 storey retail unit over the ground and basement floors and therefore its external appearance is limited to its shopfront as part of the colonnade along the ground floor of Arlington House, occupied by a series of different retail units with a variety of different shopfront styles. This series of shopfronts forms part of the cumulative high street setting of the Grade I late 18th century Bath Street to the south. It additionally faces directly onto Abbey Churchyard via the Grade I north colonnade at the Grand Pump Room, and therefore contributes to the sensitive setting of an ensemble of Grade I, II*, and II buildings as well as the setting of the Scheduled Monument of the Roman Baths and the old Roman town.
Whilst unlisted and of a neutral significance on its own, 40 Stall Street is located in a historically and aesthetically significant position within the city centre, conservation area, and World Heritage Site. We therefore strongly advocate for the use of high-quality, traditional signage in keeping with the characteristics of its wider setting.
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 setting of multiple listed buildings, the visual amenities of the Bath conservation area, and the special qualities of the World Heritage Site.
The materials of the proposed individually-pinned lettering has not been indicated as part of this application. We maintain that we are not supportive of the use of acrylic or Perspex lettering which would be at odds with the material character and appearance of the conservation area. Where pinned lettering is considered acceptable, timber or metal of an appropriate finish is a preferable alternative which would read as more coherent and harmonious additions to the streetscape. We strongly emphasise the need for the proposed signage materials to be clarified as part of this application.
Whilst we note this application would reuse the existing projecting sign bracket, the use of an acrylic projecting box sign is not appropriate within this location. It is not compatible with the tradition of hand-painted hanging signage in Bath’s historic core. We strongly recommend a timber hand-painted sign is considered.
Considering other example of shopfronts with external seating within the colonnade, the principle of outdoor seating in this context is acceptable. The boundaries established by the colonnade can be used effectively to restrict seating from spilling out into a busy thoroughfare along Stall Street and ensure adequate clearance for pedestrian amenity.
We are cautious about the proliferation of A-boards within the city centre and the resulting creation of detrimental street clutter. The proposed A-board may be considered acceptable where this is located in close proximity to the retail unit and does not impede pedestrian movement or historic street views. We strongly recommend the use of a timber A-board, ideally with a hand-painted finish, and should be of a modest scale and appearance. We emphasise the need for further signage details.
This application 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 should be withdrawn or refused.