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How the rules on shop colours in Stamford are made





Shopkeepers being told to repaint their fronts has caused a stir among residents who don't agree with the ageing rules that guide it.

Stork of Stamford in St Mary's Street faced objections from the town council and civic society at the end of last year for using a gold-yellow shade from the Dulux Heritage range.

Members of Stamford Town Council felt 'yellow is not an acceptable colour in a conservation area'.

Stamford Shopfront Design Guide
Stamford Shopfront Design Guide

But several LincsOnline readers were flabbergasted, writing in to say Stork's colour choice should stay.

Last month (February) South Kesteven District Council orders Peters’ Cleaners in St Paul's Street, Stamford to be repainted because the company's choice of orange and blue paint and a vinyl window dressing ‘harm’ the heritage of the listed building.

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Meanwhile, Margo and Plum, now closed, courted trouble from the town council by displaying a neon sign in the window of its St Mary's Street store, while Freckleface caused a mini furore by hanging plastic foliage from its frontage in Red Lion Street.

Oliver Bonas
Oliver Bonas

A conservation area since 1967, Stamford town centre has long been spared some of the brash signs and designs of businesses keen to catch the attention of shoppers.

And in October 1993, the 20-page Stamford Shopfront Design Guide was drawn up at South Kesteven District Council to add to the restrictions.

In the foreword, the council's then-chairman Ron Briggs said the appearance of buildings and the town centre as a whole would benefit from a 'sensitive approach' to the design of new shopfronts.

The guide is still used by the council, which says it remains "fit for purpose because the principles of good shopfront design remain consistent".

Ursula Jones, who chairs Stamford Civic Society, said: “I don’t think it needs updating at all. There’s quite a lot of flexibility and it is still very relevant.”

Coun Shaun Ford, a Stamford town councillor who has been particularly vocal about bright lights and fake foliage, said having a conservation area has preserved the town's antiquity and that many other towns have changed for the worse as a result of losing their heritage.

EE
EE

He added: “Stamford has kept its character and that’s one of the main reasons people visit the town. Everything we see is a visual cue to its identity.

"No matter how small an alteration it changes the visual character. We should be working together to preserve it.

“I love the town so much and the historic look of it, so if anything departs from that it is a shame."

Shaun Ford stood by the tarmac pavement
Shaun Ford stood by the tarmac pavement

Coun Ford believes people's ignorance of Stamford Shopfront Design Guide is why the town’s planning rules are broken, and believes the new communications officer role at Stamford Town Council will help create a dialogue between businesses and the council.

Although it is the district council that has the final say on shopkeepers' plans to change signs and colours, the town council is consulted and provides ‘eyes on the ground’.

The maximum penalty for for breaking the rules is two years in prison and an unlimited fine. But South Kesteven District Council is unaware of penalties being imposed.

Simply Stamford and Rapport
Simply Stamford and Rapport

The rules include a recommendation to use white or neutral colours on slender shopfronts, and a single colour for all the major elements of the design. Stained timber is not considered to be a traditional finish in Stamford, although security features such as alarms and shutters are allowed.

The civic society says to steer clear of 'anything bright or garish' that won't be sympathetic to the natural colour of the stone.

Yet several shops in Stamford do seem to get away with eye-catching shades, including Oliver Bonas, which stands out in pink in the High Street, and Joules, which sports yellow.

Bakehouse and Katie Cardew
Bakehouse and Katie Cardew

The civic society also shares Stamford Shopfront Design Guide's dim view of illuminated signs, with Mrs Jones reinforcing the view that 'Crazy neon lights flashing all the time' are not considered in keeping with the town.

Boss Cuts in High Street was forced to remove a lit barbers’ pole, while Stamford Shawarma Bar and Margo and Plum - both now closed - were also reported for their neon.

Stamford town councillor Barry Devereux, who chairs the town council's planning committee, recently reviewed the shopfront guide.

Mobile Master
Mobile Master

He said: “It looks out of date and old because of the formatting and photos with its layout.

“However, the contents of it are very relevant and we do refer to it on a regular basis.”

However, Coun Devereux says planning will have to adapt to the changes of the modern world such as EV charging points, broadband and solar panels which have all become more popular since the guide was created.

Peters' Cleaners
Peters' Cleaners

The district council wants to refresh the guide but says it has no timescale for this.

Key points from the Stamford Shopfront Design Guide:

• Rich dark colours or neutral shades are preferred

Nelson's the butcher's shop in Red Lion Square, Stamford
Nelson's the butcher's shop in Red Lion Square, Stamford

• Each shopfront has to be approached individually

• Shopfronts are part of a larger building so the overall composition must be considered

• Conspicuous alarm boxes can spoil a good facade

Cloisters and Level 7
Cloisters and Level 7

• Permission is needed to alter a listed building’s shop front, including changes to colour, signage, blinds and alarms

• Illuminated signs are not normally acceptable

• Grilles and shutters should be inside the shop

• Temporary advertisements can spoil appearance of a building so only one poster is allowed per window and should be taken down as soon as possible

• Stickers and notices will give a cluttered appearance and should be kept to the minimum

• Modern pre-fabricated fascia panels are totally unsuitable in Stamford town

What are your thoughts on the guide? Let us know in the comments.



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