The District Council look set to adopt formal planning policies for shopfront design across the district at an Executive meeting tomorrow evening.
The "Retail Frontages, Design & Signage Supplementary Planning Document" will build on last year's adopted District Plan and provide guidance for retail businesses in Hertford and other East Herts towns. Ensuring that retail and town centres are of a high environmental quality is seen as important due of the changing nature of town centres.
The character of Hertford's townscape is recognised in in the document:
This market town sees its main retail and commercial area along St. Andrew Street, Old Cross, Mill Bridge /The Wash, Parliament Square, Maidenhead Street, Bull Plain, Market Place, Bircherley Green, Railway Street, and Fore Street. This area is within the Hertford Conservation Area and contains a high percentage of listed buildings with a number identified as making a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area.
The report highlights the number of good quality historic shopfronts and signs, as well as traditional materials and details.
There is also recognition that there are a number of poor quality shopfronts, fascias and advertisements - particularly in Maidenhead Street - that detract from, not only the buildings themselves, but the streetscene. Some traditional shopfronts have seen the introduction of "unacceptable" window display areas, a poor choice of colours, even to the traditional wooden shopfronts.
The council already have powers over the appearance of shops and related signage, which typically require planning permission
The document offers advice on shopfront design, including examples of good and bad practice, as well as discussing classic shopfront features such as awnings, corbels, stallrisers and thresholds.
Good quality signage and fixings are also an important part of retail frontages, requiring a sympathetic approach that respects the town centre's heritage. The potential issues of corporate branding in the town's Conservation Area are recognised in the policy document:
Company logos, signs and standard shopfront designs may not be suitable for either individual buildings or in Conservation Areas. The overall appearance of the building and the area is more important than promoting a ‘corporate house style’ for different branches of the same company. Care should be taken to adapt the design and incorporate the company logo in the overall design. Multiple stores need to co-operate in modifying their standard ‘corporate’ lettering, especially in conservation areas and on listed buildings.
Illumination, shutters, alarms and cameras and are also covered by planning policies relating to the town centre.
The retail frontage policy was subject to public consultation earlier in the year, with 13 representations made.
The document is expected to be approved and adopted by the District Council's Executive Committee at a meeting tomorrow evening at Wallfields.
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