Unit 2, Gerald Rich Locally Grown Produce, Victoria House, St Saviour’s Road, Larkhall, Bath
Victoria House is an unlisted 19th century terraced building, now in use as a shop, situated within the Larkhall character area of the Bath City-Wide Conservation Area and World Heritage Site. It forms part of a significant high street of local shops and businesses at the historic core of the 19th century Larkhall district. The building occupies a central position, slightly offset from the junction between St Saviour’s Road, Upper Lambridge Street, Brookleaze Buildings, and Lambridge Buildings. Victoria House as a whole is made up of a pair of buildings, now featuring two separate retail ‘units’ at ground floor (Unit 1 & Unit 2); the building retains some visual cohesion due to its original symmetry of form and the continuity of its shared Bath stone ashlar façade and mansard roofline, although later alterations to the first floor window reveals and the ground floor (likely as part of the later insertion of shopfronts) have somewhat unbalanced this original architectural harmony. ‘Unit 2’ retains a dual frontage shopfront across its corner elevation; the shopfront surround features a first-floor cornice and framing pilasters around the windows. Based on this traditional detailing, as well as the presence of later blockwork at ‘Unit 1’, it seems apparent that this shopfront predates its neighbour.
BPT previously commented in response to application 22/04203/FUL, with general support regarding the demonstrated public benefit of a proposed new accessible entrance to the shop. We further noted the importance of utilising signage which would enhance and be coherent with the visual amenities of the streetscape.
We are supportive of proposals for the use of a hand-painted timber hanging sign and a two hand-painted timber fascias across the west and south elevations, where these would reinforce the existing traditional shopfront character of the local Larkhall high street, and the wider Bath conservation area. It is indicated that the existing “computer printed plastic board” on the south elevation would be replaced with a hand-painted timber fascia, which would enhance the visual amenities of the conservation area.
However, we note some inconsistencies in the application which are as yet unclear; the application form makes reference to the fascia and hanging signs being “finished with paint or high quality transfers”. Transfers are typically taken to mean the application of vinyl lettering or logos onto a surface, which is not considered to be an acceptable material intervention within the conservation area. We therefore strongly recommend that this detail is clarified as to what material finish is proposed, in accordance with the fascia signs which have already been retrospectively installed.
The proposed awning would be a “Victorian-style traditional shop awning on south elevation, with wooden housing, steel arms and pastel-coloured fabric cover cloth with Larkhall Farm Shop lettering and logo.” The use of a traditional-style awning mechanism is considered acceptable and in keeping with local character. However, we maintain that awnings should not be overly cluttered with advertising: B&NES similarly maintain in their guidance on commercial signage that “any lettering or logos on approved external blinds or awnings should be minimal, small size and limited to the name of the company or business. It should not dominate the area of the blind.” It is therefore recommended that the scale and volume of signage proposed on the awning is either reduced, or omitted entirely.