Shopfront guidance approved by West Lothian Council

The guidance is for conservation areas in West Lothian including  Linlithgow Palace and High Street. Photo by Andrew West, kindly supplied by Sally McIntosh-Anderson.
The guidance is for conservation areas in West Lothian including Linlithgow Palace and High Street. Photo by Andrew West, kindly supplied by Sally McIntosh-Anderson.

New planning guidance relating to shopfronts and advertisements in Conservation Areas has been approved by West Lothian Council.

The guidance is intended to help retailers improve the quality of design when altering or replacing shopfronts and advertising within Broxburn & Uphall, Linlithgow Palace and High Street, Kirknewton, Mid Calder, Livingston Village and Torphichen conservation areas.

Conservation Areas are worthy of protection or enhancement as they have a special architectural or historic character. As such, special planning regulations apply for development in these areas.

This is particularly necessary in town centres as retail areas, with shopfronts and related advertisements, are often the most prominent and most visited part of a conservation area. The Planning Guidance will guide property owners and businesses on what is expected in terms of good design when submitting proposals within these conservation areas.

Chris Alcorn, principal planner with West Lothian Council, said: “By following the planning guidance, applicants should be able to achieve shopfront solutions appropriate to the property’s historic context.

“The purpose of the guidance is not to require precise ways of designing alterations, or to discourage imaginative or innovative new design, but to provide guidance for the alteration, replacement and restoration of shopfronts.

“Well-designed shopfronts not only preserve and enhance the character and appearance of buildings and town and village centres, they can also contribute to their commercial success.”

The new planning guidance covers: Listed Building Consent; Advertisement Consent; traditional shopfronts; colour and materials, signage and other advertisements, scaffolding; and other issues.

Council Leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick Said: “The council recognises that the retail industry requires adaptability and flexibility in shopfront design in order to respond to the rapidly changing market and consumer pressures. However, the visual quality of historic townscape and village centres and the architectural integrity of individual buildings and groups of buildings, especially within designated conservation areas, can be lessened by poor shopfront design.

“It is recognised that standard shopfronts used by some national retailers may present a recognised ‘house style’.

“However, this is not always appropriate in sensitive locations such as on listed buildings within conservation areas.

“Whilst the desire for corporate image is appreciated, in some cases standard designs will need to be modified in order to fit sympathetically with the period and architectural style of the building.

“It is important, therefore, that alterations, restoration and replacement are carried out sympathetically in order to protect the character of an area. Size, scale, design and detailing, the use of correct materials and colour schemes are all important in enabling shopfronts to make a positive contribution to an area.”

The guidance was the subject of consultation with relevant parties over a six week period in September/October 2019.