Shop Fronts

The form and design of shop fronts can influence the character and quality of shopping areas both in city centres and within village streets. In city centres shops compete with each other to provide commodities and services which we require. Shopkeepers need to make their whereabouts known and to display their merchandise. All this helps to create the busy atmosphere that we associate with town centres. Where shops exist in the historic areas of cities we must still recognise these commercial requirements but at the same time we must continue to care for and respect the architectural heritage that has been handed down to us.

(From the introduction to The design of shop fronts within the historic centre of Durham)

A number of documents relating to the design of shop fronts have been found in the archives of the City of Durham Trust:

The design of shop fronts within the historic centre of Durham: this 8 page booklet was produced in 1975 by the City Planning Officer Anthony R.N. Scott. It has been scanned and may be read via that link (6 Mb). Tony Scott was Durham City’s distinguished Planning Officer from 1973-89 before going into consultancy. In Durham he master-minded the award-winning redesign and floorscaping of the city centre and actively engaged the City in the Council of Europe’s Campaign for Urban Renaissance. During his tenure of office this booklet guided the design of shop fronts on the peninsula and in the Market Place, Silver Street and the lower part of North Road.

Other documents are also available to consult, but in paper copies only:

  • Shop fronts: design guidelines in County Durham (28-page booklet published by Durham County Council. No date, but appears to be early 1990s)
  • Shopfront Design Guide (6 page leaflet produced jointly by Tynedale Council and Hexham Civic Society. Date appears to be 1991)
  • Shopfronts, Blinds & Signs: A Guide to their Design (36-page booklet published by the City of Westminster in December 1990)

One Response to Shop Fronts

  1. Matthew Phillips says:

    The 1975 document shows a good balance between the commercial needs and the need to care for the architecture of the city centre. One area where I thought the 1975 guide did not offer a strong enough lead was regarding projecting signs, where it mentions that these are more traditionally associated with banks and pubs. But now almost all the shops have projecting signs, and they are not painted wooden ones as suggested in this guide. They certainly do not improve the look of streets such as Silver Street and Saddler Street.

    I would like to see a policy on shop fronts and signs as part of the neighbourhood plan. It might be necessary to assess how many shops conform to the policy already. The area covered by the policy should also include North Road, which has quite a lot of buildings of architectural merit, although it is not part of the medieval core.

    Is there a policy from York we could adopt, perhaps? York has successful and distinctive shopping streets and enhancing the appearance of the shops in the conservation area would surely be compatible with eceomic success.