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South Kesteven District Council orders Peters’ Cleaners in Stamford to be repainted as orange and blue paint and vinyl ‘harm’ heritage of listed building

The owner of a dry cleaning business must fork out thousands of pounds to repaint her shop as the colours are considered unacceptable in a conservation area.

Peters’ Cleaners in St Paul’s Street, Stamford - which last year celebrated its 60th anniversary - was given a new lick of blue and orange paint in October 2022 as part of rebranding plans to uplift the ‘outdated’ appearance.

However, because of the building’s place in a conservation area, planning permission should have been sought before.

Peters' Cleaners
Peters' Cleaners

Chief executive of Peters’ Cleaners, Vicky Whiter, was unaware of this until she was sent an enforcement notice last year.

“Until they wrote me a letter I didn’t even know these rules existed,” she said.

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“My landlady who owns a number of other shops wasn’t aware of them.

“I’m still not actually clear about what is allowed.”

A retrospective planning application was submitted by Vicky in November.

Vicky Whiter, owner of Peter's Cleaners, standing in front of the shop in 2020 when it was painted blue
Vicky Whiter, owner of Peter's Cleaners, standing in front of the shop in 2020 when it was painted blue

The planning application by Peters’ Cleaners states that the colours were chosen to respect the history and character of the building and business, and also lift the look of the shop and brand, as a nod to the present.

The blue is similar to the original colour of the shop with the orange chosen as its “nature’s natural complement to blue in sunrises and sunsets”.

Vicky said: “We have always been blue but we felt the whole brand needed a lift and to be modernised.”

She added: “It is hard to make your shop stand out. Where we are, you can’t see our shop from the High Street so we want people to notice it when they walk by.”

Vinyl was also added in the brand colours to protect the staff from the sun which shines into the shop for the majority of the day making it difficult to see.

The alternative to the vinyl would be to put in blinds, which Vicky fears could catch dust due to all of the fabrics and make the shop appear closed.

Lodging objections to the building’s new look, Stamford Town Council’s response to the application was: “The proposed colours are not an appropriate choice of colour for this property in the conservation area. The previous colour scheme is acceptable.”

Historic England and Stamford Civic Society did not submit comments.

South Kesteven District Council, the planning authority, was also not won over by the plans and this week refused the application, ordering that Peters’ Cleaners must be repainted.

A report by the council’s conservation officer, James Adams, says that the proposals detract from the streetscape and are against advice in the Stamford Shopfront Design Guide, a document which sets out rules for the appearance of shopfronts.

It added: “The blue proposed is not a 'rich, dark colour' and the orange selected, whilst complementary to the blue does not 'highlight the decorative architectural features'.

“As such, a darker blue paint scheme is recommended.

“Regarding the proposed orange sections, this does not highlight architectural features of the traditional shopfront.

“If orange is a preferred colour, it should be used sensitively, such as on the lettering in a thin style of lettering, an option if applied sensitively and sparingly.”

The conservation officer ruled the colours chosen ‘harm’ the building and do not preserve or enhance the character and appearance.

Vicky believes she will have to have a new design drawn up and submitted to the council for approval.

She said: “The reality of the situation is that in order to pay for this, I will have to put up prices by more than I already need to, which we don’t want to do but I just simply don’t have the money.

“If the council wishes to pay, I am happy to re-paint.

“I am also not really sure how this puts the fabric of the building in risk – it all seems a little overdramatic.”

Vicky believes she has six months to revert the shop to its original blue colour and estimates it will cost more than £2,500. She has the right to appeal the decision.

Vicky said: “I am totally OK with the fact they want to change the colours, if they are the rules they are the rules.

“What I’m not OK with is nobody seems to be conscious or care about the financial situation.”

A spokesperson for South Kesteven District Council said the shop was a listed building and that listed building consent was required for “any changes that would alter their special character”.

“No advice or guidance was sought prior to the painting of these premises but council officers have since suggested alternative paint colours that would be appropriate and are happy to continue to work with the applicant to agree both these and a timescale for the repainting of the shop front,” said the spokesperson.

“We would advise anyone with responsibility for a listed building to familiarise themselves with the national legislation before commencing any work to the property.”

TV apprentice Marianne Rawlins is also facing complaints about the colour of her town shop - despite using paint from a heritage range.

Like Vicky, Marianne claims she was unaware of the rules and has submitted a retrospective application to keep the shop in its new yellow and black colours.

What do you think? Share your views in the comments.

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