Shop fronts in Fingal – When uniformity adds value

At a recent Council meeting I posed the question of regulating the design and visual appearance of Shop fronts across our county.

I simply asked if it is possible to regulate the design and finish of shop fronts within Fingal County Council’s jurisdiction or if it is possible to introduce by laws to regulate this?

(Photo of “Farrell Holton” confectioners The Mall, Malahide (near present Xtravision) in 1910.) The Fingal Development Plan 2005 – 2011 includes extensive provisions for the conservation of the County’s architectural heritage, and recognises the value of traditional shop and pub fronts as part of that heritage. Policy HP20 of the Plan is To seek the retention of historic shopfronts and pubfronts as part of the streetscape of the towns and villages of Fingal.

The conservation of traditional shopfronts of value and the requirement of a high standard of design for new shopfronts are important issues in the implementation of the Architectural Conservation Areas (ACAs) provided for in the Development Plan. A number of the County’s more important traditional shopfronts are included in the Record of Protected Structures.

Section 3.6 of the Plan expresses the Council’s commitment to the introduction of quality contemporary design solutions throughout the County.

Any planning application for a shop front must be assessed within the above policy framework.

High Quality Design is one of the four cross-cutting themes underpinning the Draft Fingal Development Plan 2011 – 2017, and Strategic Policy No.4 is

Add quality to the places where Fingal’s people live work and recreate by integrating high quality design into every aspect of the Plan.

The Draft Plan includes a section on Shop Fronts. This recognises that poor quality shopfronts can seriously erode the character of a streetscape and be visually intrusive. It acknowledges that careful management needs to be exercised with regard to shopfront treatment and provides that high quality contemporary design will be encouraged for new shopfronts. However, any new shopfront design will have to respect the character and of the existing streetscape. The Draft Plan includes the following objectives with regard to shop fronts:

Objective UC22

Ensure new shopfront design respects the character and architectural heritage of the existing streetscape. Encourage, where appropriate, the use of contemporary shop front design.

Objective UC23

Prevent the use of film or screening that obscures the glazed area of a shopfront window where it negatively impacts upon the streetscape.

Objective UC24

Ensure that corporate logos, designs and colours are not used at the expense of the streetscape.

Objective UC25

Require that security shutters on new shopfronts are placed behind the window glazing and are transparent. The Draft Plan provides for the continuation of the Council’s measures for the conservation and enhancement of Protected Structures and Architectural Conservation Areas. It is considered that the above provisions of the Draft Plan will ensure an appropriate framework for the; design of new shopfronts and the conservation of traditional shopfronts of quality into the future.