Rich as Croesus

Now that an inspector has sanctioned the retention of a gold-finish shopfront in a secondary retail stretch in southeast London (DCS Number 400-029-908), it must be only a matter of time before the appellant is rich as Croesus.

The inspector remarked that the shopfronts and fascia signage in the area were in many cases far from traditional, in differing states of condition, and at times uninspiring. Fronts varied considerably, he noted, often reflecting the uses, for example the subtle deli, the functional general store, and the bright, open takeaway.

The inspector acknowledged that the shopfront, the subject of the appeal, did draw the eye. In its present state, he related, it was gold in reflective, almost mirror-like, finish and had a large glass-to-frame and stallriser ratio. The council considered the design to be inappropriate and the materials to be incongruous and of poor quality, and that the overall result was a shopfront which was harmful to the character and appearance of the subject building, shopping parade, and wider district centre. 

The inspector was aware that the works were not complete, as a membrane was to be applied which would reduce the degree of shine, and he had more confidence than the council that this could be done to be effective and without looking second-rate. He considered that a simple toning down a little of the finish would make the frontage less garish. He did readily take the appellant’s points that it was good to see investment in the parade and that not everyone shares the same taste. Approaches to businesses vary, he remarked, and he recognised that a gold finish to many would represent prosperity and success and in its own right act as signage for the business. 

The inspector held that a wish to stand out to a degree was not an ambition which should always be denied unless manifest wider harm was caused to character and appearance attributes or the economic well-being of an area. In his opinion these negatives did not arise here. With the modification proposed he was content that the appeal scheme would preserve immediate and wider character and appearance. He concluded that the scheme would sit comfortably with the host building and add further visual interest, life and aesthetic appeal to the locality. 

There is a section on shopfront design at 13.431 of DCP Online.