Tone down shopfronts, Kerry council tells big chain stores

Global chain stores will be asked to tailor their signs and tone down their colour schemes to a more traditional palette under new guidelines published by Kerry County Council in a bid to protect distinctive shop fronts.

Tone down shopfronts, Kerry council tells big chain stores

Global chain stores will be asked to tailor their signs and tone down their colour schemes to a more traditional palette under new guidelines published by Kerry County Council in a bid to protect distinctive shop fronts.

“We are seeking to preserve what is there and give guidance on people changing their shopfronts,” senior planner Damien Ginty told a recent meeting of Kerry County Council.

Enforcement letters have also been sent to a small number of premises which are felt to be out of step with their streets and/or failed to apply for planning.

Killarney’s hand-painted signs from a Turkish barbershop to tasteful takeaway signs were on display alongside much older street fronts as examples of what can be done.

Shops are being increasingly bold in advertising their wares to gain attention in the attempt to keep afloat, but the context of nearby buildings and what was overhead needed to be taken into account, Mr Ginty said.

Illuminated signs will not normally be allowed on protected structures — although exceptions may be made for night venues. And full neon, as well as intermittent illumination, is out.

Kerry County Council is endeavouring to protect Killarney’s traditional shop fronts.
Kerry County Council is endeavouring to protect Killarney’s traditional shop fronts.

Colour choices must “harmonise” with existing shops, and the architectural context of the building and the streetscape should always take priority over corporate branding.

McDonald’s had worked with local councils elsewhere and corporate logos in franchise stores can be reworked, Mr Ginty said.

Solid roller shutters are outlawed as they create “a dead frontage” with no visual transparency as he felt alternatives work just as well from a security point of view.

Thirty years ago, Killarney had fought the glitter and won, Donal Grady recalled, referring to the campaign by the late town manager Paddy D’Arcy against plastic signs and neon.

Cllr Fionnan Fitzgerald asked if finance could be made available for the many vacant premises with old style signs in Castleisland to preserve and repair them.

The county had “a wealth of traditional shopfronts,” with ornate cornices, columns, and old features like fanlights over doors and sil stones under shop windows, the meeting was told.

The use of Irish is encouraged in all areas, not just in west Kerry or in the Iveragh Gaeltachts, Mr Ginty added.

“Where signs are to be in the Irish language, consideration should be given to using traditional Gaelic script in hand-painted signs,” he said.

Kerry County Council is endeavouring to protect Killarney’s traditional shop fronts.
Kerry County Council is endeavouring to protect Killarney’s traditional shop fronts.

Kerry’s vernacular shopfronts are a core element of the built heritage of the county’s towns and villages and they play an important role in creating a unique sense of place and character, he also said.

The meeting heard about Kerry’s tradition of excellence in the craftsmanship involved in historic shopfront design. There are many examples throughout the county of traditional shopfronts and signage that form an intrinsic part of a village or streets’ vernacular charm reflecting local distinctive styles and characteristics.

Most shopfront works require planning permission and a suitably qualified person with expertise in this area should be engaged for any proposal, the meeting was told.

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