High Street Shopfronts and Signage Improvements
What are the issues faced by the High Street in Midsomer Norton?
Midsomer Norton town centre, along with parts of Welton, was designated as a ‘Conservation Area’ in 2004 because of its ‘special architectural and historic interest’. That means that B&NES Council has a legal duty to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the local area and ensure that its condition is monitored and assessed.
Following the most recent assessment carried out in 2018, the condition of the Conservation Area was found to be poor.
In Midsomer Norton, the lack of investment in buildings and public spaces was highlighted and recommendations made to 1) improve tired, run-down and poorly-altered shopfronts; and 2) remove unattractive advertisements and signage.
What is the solution?
Fortunately, following the hard work of local stakeholders, these problems have been acknowledged and funding secured to address them.
The Shopfront Improvement Scheme will support local businesses and property owners in a number of ways. This will include opportunities to renew and improve shopfronts, facades and signage through the provision of match funding and paid-for professional advice.
Around £100,000 has been allocated to deliver a Shopfront Improvement Scheme. The objectives for this scheme include:
- A comprehensive Shopfront and Façade Survey for the Midsomer Norton High Street (to find out the most impactful ways to spend this funding);
- The creation of Shopfront Design Guidance for Midsomer Norton High Street (to recommend the best ways to restore/repair shopfronts and design/install signage and advertisements); and
- A Shopfront Improvement pilot scheme for approximately 10 shopfronts at The Island and elsewhere within the High Street (to actually bring the recommendations forward and make physical improvements).
Which buildings are included within the Shopfront Improvement Scheme?
The Shopfront Improvement Scheme seeks to breathe new life into the town centre and make it a more desirable place for local people, businesses, visitors and those who might want to invest in our High Street.
As such, the real focus for the Scheme is to renew and restore shopfronts, facades and signage on the High Street in ways which celebrate Midsomer Norton’s unique character and vibrancy. In order to be eligible for grant-funding, projects must:
- Be located within the Midsomer Norton High Street Heritage Action Zone (see map below);
- Focus on the external shop frontage;
- Have a design that will renew or improve the look and feel of the High Street, thereby positively contributing to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area.
What types of improvements can be supported?
Each project within the Shopfront Improvement Scheme will be different and depend on the building(s) in question, the funds available and the aims of those involved. Certain projects may include more than one shopfront, for example a group of adjacent shopfronts.
Shopfront Improvements can range in size from the small (e.g. new awnings or signage) to the large scale (e.g. full restoration or refronting). These improvements could include historical repairs to existing architectural features or the introduction of contemporary design.
In order to support the Shopfront Improvement Scheme, the HSHAZ Project Team undertook a comprehensive High Street Shopfront and Facade Study. This Study identified various issues with High Street buildings and public spaces and makes suggestions for how the area could be improved over time, not just within the HSHAZ project period.
The Study also included a detailed survey of all pre-1960s buildings on the High Street and made recommendations for improvements to each of these buildings. These ‘recommended improvements’ would be supported by the Shopfront Improvements Scheme and are a good place to start for potential match funding applicants.
Examples of work carried out successfully elsewhere include:
- General external repairs and refurbishment;
- Fascia, signage and signboard improvements;
- Repair, reframing and reglazing of windows;
- Installation, repair or restoration of projecting signage e.g. hanging signs;
- Installation, repair or restoration of external awnings;
- Installation of new stall risers;
- Provision or renewal of external lighting;
- Repair or renewal of pilasters/columns;
- Full restoration or refronting of a shopfront.
Improvements to upper floors:
- Façade repairs (e.g. brickwork, rendering and repointing);
- Repair or replacement of windows;
- Repainting and renewal of signage
Examples of what has been achieved elsewhere can be found belowr
Shopfront Improvement project carried out in Penge, SE London (You & Me Architects)
Mobile Zone in Penge, SE London (You & Me Architects)
Deptford Does Art, SE London (You & Me Architects)
Where does the Shopfront Improvement Scheme funding come from and how much is available?
The Shopfront Improvement Scheme is part of the wider Midsomer Norton ‘High Street Heritage Action Zone’ (‘HSHAZ’) initiative funded by Historic England, the West of England Combined Authority, B&NES Council, Midsomer Norton Town Council and the Midsomer Norton Town Trust.
As mentioned, approximately £100,000 has been allocated for shopfront, façade and signage improvements within the HSHAZ area. This match funding will support improvements for up to 16 buildings on the High Street between 2021-24, although there will be an initial focus on shopfronts within the vicinity of The Island.
As match funding, applicants will be asked to contribute at least 50% of the total cost of any agreed works. Applications will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, mindful of the finite amount of grant funding available and the need to fairly distribute this funding between eligible and impactful projects.
I'm interested in the Shopfront Improvements Scheme. What would be required from me?
Undertaking any building project requires careful consideration. Things to be considered include:
• Financial implications;
• Capacity to undertake such a project;
• Clear project aims and objectives;
• Benefits and outcomes;
• Timescales for delivery;
• Method of delivery.
Prior to any application to the Shopfront Improvement Scheme, potential applicants should also consider the:
• Requirement to contribute at least 50% of the total cost of any agreed works;
• Requirement to attend meetings with the HSHAZ Project Team and HSHAZ-appointed professionals;
• Requirement to oversee the delivery of the shopfront improvement works and liaise proactively with the HSHAZ Project Team, design team and appointed contractors;
• Requirement to enter a simple contractual agreement with B&NES Council prior to the start of any agreed works;
• Requirement to fund any agreed works up front and claim the grant-funding following completion and formal sign-off by the HSHAZ Project Team.
I'm comfortable with the requirements of the Shopfront Improvement Scheme. What next?
The Shopfront Improvement Scheme will provide a rolling programme of support until 2024, however the amount of match funding available is finite (approximately £100,000) and will be distributed as eligible and impactful projects come forward.
Therefore, potential applicants are encouraged to express their interest in the Scheme and match funding at the earliest opportunity. Please note that tenants/leaseholders will need to ensure the property owner (e.g. Registered Title Holder, Freeholder or Landlord) is supportive of potential improvement works.
In order to register your interest for the Shopfront Improvements Scheme, potential applicants are invited to review the ‘recommended improvements’ for their building within the High Street Shopfront and Façade Study and complete the short Expressions of Interest (‘EOI’) form found here. The HSHAZ Project Team are looking to receive the initial EOI forms by Spring 2022.
I'm considering a Shopfront Improvement project but the match-funding timescales/criteria don't fit with my plans. What should I do?
All High Street businesses or property owners who are considering a shopfront, façade or signage improvement project before 2024 are encouraged to complete an EOI form. Whilst the most viable and impactful projects will be prioritised within the match-funding allocation, there is potential for additional funding to come forward in later years and for different purposes. The HSHAZ Project Team are keen to hear about potential future projects and to consider how best to support these.
I have completed an Expression of Interest form for the Midsomer Norton Shopfront Improvements Scheme. What happens next?
Once the initial EOI forms are received, the HSHAZ Project team will review these and contact potential applicants to discuss their shopfront improvement proposals.
If these proposals are considered viable and effective, the HSHAZ Project Team will then invite businesses or property owners to submit a formal application for match-funding and support them through this process.
The HSHAZ Project Team will share a Grant Application Flow Chart in due course that provides an overview of Shopfront Improvement Scheme processes, including details of the eligibility assessment, securing match-funding and delivery the agreed works.
Should you require further information on the Shopfront Improvement Scheme, or wish to discuss Scheme eligibility or making an EOI in more detail, please contact the High Street Project Manager by email at [email protected]