Writing about Whiting’s on Bootham has reminded me that I didn’t follow-up on the ‘Impressive frontage planned on Bootham’, which is still retail premises, recently taken over by Rugs of the World. It was a Jacksons store, briefly a Sainsbury’s Local, and for a long time a bit of a dump. Here’s how it looked:
and here’s how it looks now:
Much better, isn’t it. Those nice old doors found inside have been reinstated in the central section, where it would appear the doors were meant to go before it was horribly hacked about.
But apparently this isn’t good enough. The planning application was refused. Surprised? So was I.
Work was already almost complete when the decision was made. You may wonder why the owners didn’t wait. But it seems fairly common to carry on with planned works in the hope of a favourable decision. The same thing happened just over the road, where the old WWII hutments were already being demolished well before the planning meeting to decide it. It’s not uncommon, and maybe a lot to do with understanding how the planning system works.
Which I don’t. Well, a bit. I understand that there are rules to try to retain the character of Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings. And that this is a Listed Building in a Conservation Area.
So as it’s a special building, just making it looking much better than it did isn’t enough. Trying to make it look suitably authentic and dignified and ‘in period’ isn’t enough either.
This is one of those times when I’m glad I’m not an expert. Ignorance is bliss, clearly. Those who know their stuff in detail may be wincing at a shopfront I’m finding quite pleasant. To me it’s aesthetically far more pleasing, but others are troubled by how the work has fallen short in recreating what it once was.
It seems the doorway isn’t sufficiently recessed, and despite the effort to reinstate the doors, the owners should have tried harder to make the shop look exactly like it used to a century ago.
Isn’t that ridiculous fakery?
And in the current economic climate, isn’t it a bit too much of a burden?
I do appreciate the need to conserve. But the stuff they want reinstating had already been ripped out decades back. And I’ve heard no one mourning it. We don’t remember it. We just remember a really manky neglected shopfront. And now see one that looks handsome enough.
Perhaps the paintwork should have been stripped back completely. It looks a bit bumpy. I don’t like overpainting of things already overpainted. But having arduously returned our front door to the original wood, before repainting, I can see why it’s not that feasible to strip back paint on a shopfront like this – it would take months and they’d be lucky to be in by Christmas.
No wonder so many businesses find life easier out at those out-of-town modern retail parks.
The application has been resubmitted, and is trying to get approval for the work already done. The public can comment. See here.
I don’t know if any heritage experts read these pages. Heritage experts, can you explain, why do we expect 21st century businesses to recreate historic features in long-ago destroyed shopfronts? That is, make a modern copy of them?
Just as interested in what people who aren’t burdened by historical comparisons think. Is this not a massive improvement?