Design and Development Control Guidelines
7 DESIGN GUIDANCE FOR SHOPFRONTS AND ADVERTISEMENTS
7.1.1 The attractiveness and character of shopping areas owes much to well-designed shop fronts and advertisements. The Council's desire is to improve the appearance of shopping areas.
- To provide a consistent basis for considering applications for the installation of shop fronts and advertisements in the borough.
- To ensure that shop fronts harmonise with and enhance the character of buildings of which they form part and to raise the overall image of the borough's shopping areas.
- To improve the attractiveness, accessibility and commercial benefits of new or replacement shop fronts.
- To ensure advertisements are not visually intrusive.
- To have regard to the effects of proposed or existing advertisements on public safety and amenity.
7.1.2 Further design advice regarding access by less agile customers is available in Design and Development Control Guideline No. 4.
7.1.3 The basic principles are outlined in Policy SHO17 (shopfronts) and Policy ENV43 (advertisements) of the Plan, as shown below:
Proposals for new or replacement frontages, alterations or advertisements will be required to respect the scale, character and design of the individual property or group of properties and area generally, be accessible to all potential users and accord with any approved guidelines. Proposals to listed buildings or in Conservation Areas will require a higher level of detailed design.
The Council will oppose the use of land or buildings for advertisements where they detract from the character or appearance of the surrounding area, or where they have an adverse effect on public safety and, particularly within Conservation Areas, the Council will apply all available controls over the display of advertisements in order to:
- ensure that the character and appearance of the area is preserved;
- encourage a high standard of design for new advertisements;
- seek the removal of unsightly advertisements; and
- investigate the designation of further areas of special advertisement control.
7.2 Shopfront design advice
- The fascia should not be over large in relation to the building façade and the shopfront, otherwise the fascia becomes discordant and out of scale.
- Common fascia lines should be respected to create an attractive street scene and ensure a shopfront retains its balance and proportion. Variations in fascia depth from one store to another should be avoided, particularly in terraced parades.
- Shopfronts should avoid destroying the building rhythm. Proposals which attempt to unify adjacent premises should emphasise the discontinuities of individual shops between fascias and by the retention or incorporation of pilasters.
Ornate pilasters should be retained intact whenever possible and should not be removed, damaged or refaced unless they are in a poor condition and in this case only materials or repainting in character with the rest of the building will be allowed.
7.2.3 Windows and doors:
- The design of shop windows and doors should reflect the features and proportions of the building's exterior, particularly in older premises.
- Where doors giving access to upper floor premises exist their design and finish should be considered in any redesign of the shopfront.
- Windows should retain stall risers which add to the character of the property and the surroundings.
- All shop doorways should be easily accessible by all shop users. Proposals should pay regard to the advice in the Council's Design Guideline No. 4 on 'Considerate Design for the Less Agile'.
- Schemes should not employ a large number of different materials or use materials likely to clash with those of adjoining premises or the street scene in general.
- Advice on the use of materials in section 7.4.3 is generally applicable throughout the borough and will always be a material consideration within Conservation Areas and on buildings of architectural or historic interest.
- Natural ventilation from opening casements, decorative grilles or the fanlight is preferable. Where there is no alternative, mechanical fans may be acceptable. They should be located in unobtrusive positions and avoid creating a noise nuisance to nearby residential property.
- Security measures in accord with policy ENV60 should be effective but their impact on the appearance of the shop and the street scene in general needs to be considered.
- Mesh grilles (both internal and external) are preferable to solid shutters which look bleak and may attract graffiti. These will normally only be allowed where the shop is open-fronted or where special security considerations apply or vandalism is a proven problem. Account will be taken of national advice such as that included in Circular 5/94 "Planning Out Crime".
- Grille boxes should be concealed and their projection minimised behind the main fascia, or, if this is not practicable, colour finished to tone with the fascia or window frame.
7.2.7 Burglar and fire alarms:
The shopfront should be kept tidy by mounting these in unobtrusive positions. Further advice on the installation of any security measures can be obtained from Circular 5/94 and the Local Police Crime Prevention Design Adviser.
7.2.8 Blinds and canopies:
- Blinds and canopies should enhance both the shop itself and the street scene
- Blinds and canopies should suit the style of the frontage and relate to the form of the shop unit itself.
- Large or long stretches of canopy which overwhelm a building or the street scene should be avoided.
- Blinds, canopies and their supporting brackets should not project within 2.1m of footway level.
Note that planning permission and air space licences may be necessary for fixed canopies.
7.2.9 Upper floors:
- Alterations to their appearance may require planning permission. Changes which detract from the appearance or character of the building will normally be resisted. Signs at first floor level will not normally be permitted with the exception of modest sign writing on window glass.
7.3 Advertising and illuminated signs
- The erection of signs may need a separate application under the Advertisement Regulations. In addition to the guidance, the Council may seek the removal of unsightly advertisements or signs which are likely to affect public safety or amenity under the Advertisements Regulations.Clear and effective advertising makes commercial sense and contributes to an attractive street scene. The main advertising area will be the fascia board and window display of goods at ground floor level in the 'Area of Change' (see Diagram below).
- Advertising on the building above the 'Area of Change' will not normally be allowed. Exceptions to this may include hand painted pub signs, and traditional ornamental signs.
7.3.2 Illuminated signs:
Individually illuminated or halo lit letters are often preferable to an evenly illuminated box. Darker background colours are easier to read and preferred to white, opal or yellow backgrounds.
- The intermittent lighting of illuminated advertisements will be resisted on the grounds of amenity and public safety. Traffic signal colours are particularly inappropriate where they may be a distraction to traffic.
- Brightly lit signs can have a detrimental effect on the surrounding area particularly on residential accommodation. The surface brightness of illuminated advertisements should not exceed the following levels:
- 700 candelas/m² in Strategic and Major District Centres;
- 350 candelas/m² in District and Neighbourhood Centres and residential areas.
7.3.3 Projecting signs:
- Only one per shop is normally acceptable. They should be positioned on the fascia wherever possible rather than on the pilasters and should be no deeper than the fascia.
7.3.4 Advertisements in non-retail areas:
- Signs should be simple and few and have regard to clarity and the townscape.
- Advertising signs should not distract motorists. On main roads or junctions, behind traffic signals or within visibility splays, or where traffic is heavy, advertising signs need to be fewer than in pedestrian areas and may be refused on grounds of road safety. Traffic signal colours should not be used on advertisements, where they could prove a distraction or create confusion. Applicants are advised to contact the Engineering Department for further details concerning their proposal.
7.3.5 Advertisement hoardings:
- Large hoardings will generally be opposed except where required for a temporary period to screen vacant sites, unsightly premises and building or demolition works.
- Large hoardings will not normally be allowed in locations where they could distract pedestrians or motorists to a degree that could adversely affect public safety; where the amenity of neighbouring residential properties is likely to be affected; or where they would be an intrusive element in an historic townscape or areas of high amenity value.
7.3.6 Free-standing advertisements:
- The Council will not normally permit free-standing advertisements or other displays to be sited on the public highway or attached to highway structures unless it is satisfied that they will not prejudice the free flow and safety of pedestrians and vehicular traffic and character and appearance of buildings and the street scene generally.
- Advertisements on the private forecourts should not be illuminated or exceed 4.5m² in aggregate surface area and should be located with due regard to the factors outlined in section 7.3.6 (1) above.
7.4 Conservation Areas and buildings of architectural interest
Shopfronts are often prominent features within the borough's Conservation Areas. A poorly designed modern shopfront can ruin an otherwise attractive building and spoil an historic street scene. Restraint is necessary if this scenic quality is to remain. Consent for the demolition of all or part of a shop front within a Conservation Area, or forming part of a listed building may be required. Where consent is required it is an offence to undertake such works without prior approval, in writing, from the Local Planning Authority. The advice of the Councils Development Control Section should therefore be sought before commencing work.
The Council will require shop owners and specialist firms of shopfitters to design their new shop fronts in sympathy with the character of Conservation Areas. In these areas the Council will require shopfront design and detailing of a particularly high standard.
In addition to the borough-wide advice contained in this guidance, which will always be a consideration in determining applications in Conservation Areas or affecting buildings of architectural interest, the following detailed advice will also apply.
- Many of the older shopfronts are Victorian in design these should be preserved intact where ever possible as few survive. Even shopfronts erected in the l920s and l930s are worthy of retention and very careful consideration should be given before any alterations are proposed.
- Painted fascia boards with lettering applied by professional signwriters is the most authentic approach. Where the original fascia is too narrow for advertising, an alternative might be a plain fascia with the shop name signwritten on the window below.
- The use of materials in new shopfronts should be in character with the building's façade and surrounding architecture.
- Traditional materials such as stone, timber, brickwork, tiles, slate are normally more appropriate. Synthetic materials such as anodised aluminium, plastic or fibreglass are rarely appropriate and their use will be resisted within Conservation Areas and on historic buildings.
- Where existing natural materials are in good condition on shopfronts, they should be retained and preserved whenever possible.
- Wood is nearly always more appropriate for window framing and should be incorporated in new shopfronts wherever possible. In the interests of the conservation of natural resources, applicants are encouraged to specify the use of hardwoods from sustainable and properly managed sources.
- Where brickwork is to be incorporated into new shopfronts it should always attempt to match the colour and type of that above the shop's fascia.
- Illuminated aluminium box signs are usually out of character and their use will be resisted.
- The Council will expect large retailers and organisations that have adopted a 'corporate image' or 'house style' to use discretion with regard to the application of their routine designs and 'corporate colours', and these may need careful modification to respect the character of a building or area.
- Flank wall signs will generally be resisted.
- Shopfront detailing should be to a high standard with special attention given to items such as letter-boxes and handles.
7.4.6 Listed buildings:
- Any significant alterations to a listed building will require Listed Building Consent.
- Applications for alterations to shopfronts within or immediately adjoining a listed building will be expected to sympathise with the existing character of the building and surroundings.