An inspector has upheld an enforcement notice requiring the removal of an unauthorised shopfront in a north London conservation area (DCS Number 400-013-303), notwithstanding there being no requirement in the notice to replace it.
The requirements of the notice were to “remove the unauthorised shopfront in its entirety and remove from the land any resultant debris”. The inspector found that the large expanses of glazing and metal framework of the unauthorised shopfront appeared contemporary in design and failed to reflect the traditional appearance and architectural composition of the host building and surrounding area. In addition, the shopfront did not include a proper stallriser or any other traditional shopfront features. Overall, he considered that the unauthorised shopfront by reason of its design and inappropriate use of materials detracted from the historical and architectural integrity of the area and failed to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the host building and the conservation area.
The inspector was alert to the fact that compliance with the notice would leave the retail unit without a shopfront. There was no requirement in the notice, for example, to install a shopfront of the same design, materials and appearance as the shopfront that was previously in place. He suggested that the appellant might well need to enter into discussions with the council about the way forward, explaining that the council has powers to extend the period for compliance with the notice under the provisions of section 173A(1)b of the 1990 Act as amended, should it consider that this would be appropriate and beneficial in the circumstances of the case.
Perhaps the point to be made here, and which perhaps this case illustrates, is that enforcement ought to be viewed as a positive activity. As the inspector said, the poor condition of the previous shopfront was an opportunity to improve the character and quality of the area and the way it functions but that the opportunity had been wasted. Here is where enforcement can retrieve the situation. Positive enforcement, in the form of a specification for a new replacement shopfront, has the potential to bring about an enhancement to the street scene. Don’t forget this part.
The following DCP chapter is relevant: 4.536