Shopfront design guide to be issued to Alnwick businesses to help keep town looking its best

A new shopfront design guide is being prepared to ensure Alnwick town centre continues to look its best.

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 5:43 am
Updated Friday, 28th February 2020, 3:32 pm
Alnwick town centre.

The early stages of the work are being done by Alnwick Civic Society at the request of Alnwick Town Council and Northumberland County Council.

Peter Reed of Alnwick Civic Society said: “The civic society did a shop front design guide about 25 years ago for the district council. That’s way out of date and the county is now producing them for all the conservation areas.

“We’ve been asked to help with preparing something specific to Alnwick,” he told a meeting of the Chamber of Trade. “We will do a brief introduction specific to Alnwick and help them with photographs of shopfronts and examples of good practice.

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“The intent is to make this positive and supportive. There are no new regulations; it will be exactly what it is at the moment so the idea isn’t to try and tighten things up or to bring more enforcement in.

“It’s to help people understand what is required and to avoid the risk of someone doing something against the rules.”

He said the current project had been triggered by a local business which did not understand the rules and had to redesign their shopfront.

Coun Martin Swinbank, chairman of the town council’s planning committee, agreed: “Over the last three or four years a number of planning applications have come forward on shop front design and very often they are retrospective, usually because someone didn’t realise they had to put a planning application in.

“We want to raise the profile of the design guide. It’s better for everyone if they know there’s a guide so someone refreshing their shop or someone new comes in they know what’s expected.”

The number of national retailers with their own branding is also an issue.

But Peter insists: “We have an archive of how Alnwick looked 25 years ago and, to me, it’s astonishing how things have improved. Traders and property owners have invested a lot of money in making it look better. This is about protecting that.”

Alnwick Chamber of Trade has pledged its support.

It is hoped the guide will be ready by mid-summer.