Shop Front Design Guidelines

A shop front is a physical representation of your brand and for a new customer it is the first impression they will have about your business. It must grab their attention, captivate them and seduce them into entering your establishment. It also needs to stand in harmony with the building and surrounding shopfronts as well as comply with local regulations, particularly if you operate in a historical business area.

The Shop Front Design Guide was produced by Herefordshire Council as an information and guidance document for businesses and developers of historic market towns in Herefordshire, but the principles are applicable throughout the county. It supplements and aids the implementation of the policy within the Herefordshire Unitary Development Plan HBA 10 and HBA 11 by setting clear design quality expectations that those applying for planning or listed building consent will need to demonstrate they can meet.

A successful shop front should communicate a clear message about your product or service and provide a focal point for the street scene. The design of the window display is an important opportunity for a small business to show off its bespoke products, such as handmade goods or locally produced food. Alternatively, it can play up the historic connections of your business by displaying vintage containers or shelving. Displaying traditional tools from your field of work may also help to attract customers.

For larger chains, the shop front can be used to promote the corporate identity and reinforce brand recognition. The use of standardised designs is a common feature in these types of shops, but should be used with restraint in sensitive areas where it can dilute local distinctiveness.

Shop fronts should be welcoming, and not imposing. Large fascias and prominent signage can impose on the character of a townscape, whilst over-sized windows can make a building look unnecessarily dominant. It is preferable to keep doors recessed rather than projecting and to ensure that the doorway does not create a significant obstruction in the public highway. A-boards should not be used and free standing signs should not protrude more than 1.8m from the shop frontage.

A shop front should allow for good accessibility, especially in high streets. This is a legal requirement for disabled people and parents with buggies, but it can also help to increase the visibility of your products and services to those who might not otherwise be aware of them. A ramp is preferred for disabled access over steps or raised sills, and the slope should be gentle to allow people in wheelchairs to manoeuvre.

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