Portishead Neighbourhood Plan Submission Consultation

Portishead Neighbourhood Plan 2022-2038

Policy PTC5: Shopfronts and Signage


6.30 Shopfront design quality and the amount, location and quality of commercial signage is a key factor in protecting, enhancing and celebrating the town centre’s distinction and character. North Somerset Council’s Shopfront Design Guidance (2019)57 provides detailed district wide advice on how good design quality and appropriate signage should be incorporated into high streets.

6.31 The heritage and distinctive character of the town centre, recorded in the Portishead Community Design Statement 2021, make a significant contribution to its attractiveness as a local destination and its lasting vitality. The Design Statement identifies pairs of shops on the High Street built in the Victorian period as making a particular contribution to the town centre’s quality. Changes in shopfronts and proposals for new signage on these buildings will be of particular importance.

6.32 The Neighbourhood Plan supports the use of upper floors for town centre businesses that complement ground floor uses. Signage for these uses must be limited to small signs at ground floor level, associated with the entrances. Wall mounted and projecting signs above ground floor fascia level are harmful to character and will not be supported.

Relevant Objective

O11 To support Portishead’s economy and local employment, and support the continued development of a diverse, high value and low carbon economy.

Local Policy Context

  • CS12: Achieving High Quality Design and Place-making
  • DM32: High Quality Design and Place-making
  • DM63: Primary Shopping Areas
  • North Somerset Shopfront Design Guide SPD 2019


Shopfront and town centre business planning and advertisement applications will be supported where they conserve or enhance the existing quality of the shopfront and signage.

Proposals will be expected to demonstrate how they have had regard to the North Somerset Shopfront Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document (Adopted 2019).

Proposed signage for upper floor uses must be limited to small signs at ground floor level, associated with their dedicated entrance. Projecting signs above ground floor level are harmful to character and will not be supported where they are judged to be harmful to the character of the town centre or the host building.

Town Centre Community Actions

Article Four Direction

6.33 Where protection of town centre Class E uses is considered to be critical to protecting the vitality and viability of Portishead Town Centre, the Town Council will work with North Somerset Council to test the feasibility of, and potentially implement, an Article Four Direction within the central core of the town centre. This may remove current Use Class MA Prior Approval/Permitted Development rights to change the use of vacant town centre frontages to residential use.

Town Centre Strategy

6.34 The Town Council will work with local stakeholders to test the feasibility of and potentially lead the development of a vision and strategy to guide and support the long-term vitality and viability of Portishead town centre.

6.35 It would be a freestanding strategy and not part of the Portishead Neighbourhood Plan. Whilst the Neighbourhood Plan provides planning policy support towards delivery of a strategy, the Strategy could consider the future priorities for the town centre in greater detail and address initiatives and projects beyond the scope of the Neighbourhood Plan.

Key Short Term Town Centre Recovery and Enhancement Projects

6.36 The Portishead Community Design Statement has identified potential areas for improvement in the appearance and public realm quality within the town centre. Some improvements may be possible as short term or “quick win” investments. They have the added potential to contribute to re-building lost customer footfall and vitality following the impacts of COVID-19.

6.37 Prior to and without prejudice to the production of a longer-term vision and town centre strategy, the Town Council will work with local stakeholders to identify, prioritise and plan implementation of short term and “quick win” enhancement projects within the town centre.


New use Class MA permits vacant smaller business premises including shops, restaurants, offices and health services, now in Class E, to be changed to residential use without planning permission and with greatly reduced restrictions.

An Article Four Direction is a planning tool that enables Local Authorities to remove permitted development rights when they would cause unacceptable harm. The NPPF allows their very restricted use to remove Class MA rights to avoid wholly unacceptable impacts to essential core primary shopping, that would seriously undermine vitality and viability.