A Guide to Shopfront Security and Planning Consent

Shopfront security is all about striking a balance between visual appeal and managing risk and, in many cases, it’s also about complying with planning permission.

Shopfront security is all about striking a balance between visual appeal and managing risk and, in many cases, it’s also about complying with planning permission. Here we look at how local councils view shopfront security, when planning permission is required, and special conditions for listed buildings and Conservation Areas.

Shopfront security

Shopfronts are important elements in the visual appearance of many buildings. The shop frontage often dictates the character and appearance of an entire street. For this reason, local councils tend to attach a great deal of importance to suitably designed shopfronts, not just to preserve the character of the buildings, but also to maintain the overall aesthetic appeal of shopping streets, and to retain their commercial viability. This applies especially for listed buildings, and in Conservation Areas.

In any area, shopfront security remains an important issue. Striking a balance, however, between preserving the visual appeal of a shopfront and ensuring a building is secure, can often prove something of a challenge.

Councils promote good shopfront security as that which is approached on a layered basis, making use of the likes of intruder alarms, security lighting and CCTV, as well as the reduction of stock and removal of valuables overnight. In all cases, they will take the approach that shopfront security should match the level of risk.

Do I need planning permission or listed building consent for shopfront security measures?

Planning permission is sometimes required for the installation or replacement of certain shopfront security measures. Rules will be tighter for listed buildings and those within Conservation Areas, so it is advisable to contact your local council to check the specific rules for your area.

Generally, you will find that the following measures will not require planning permission, but will require listed building consent (although do check with your own local authority as they may have their own individual rules):

  • Laminated glass
  • Internal security cameras
  • Internal grilles
  • External security cameras*

* Unless they are very small, external security cameras will need planning permission if the building is listed or located in a Conservation Area. In any case, you will need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and put up the necessary advisory signage.

The following shopfront security measures will usually need planning permission whether or not the building is listed or in a Conservation Area:

  • Reduced size glazing panes
  • External timber shutters
  • External demountable grilles
  • Gates that cover front doors
  • External roller grilles
  • External roller shutters

Listed buildings, i.e. those of historic or architectural importance, are subject to special planning controls. It is necessary to obtain listed building consent when your planned shopfront security measures will have an effect on the special historic or architectural character of the building, both inside and out. Again, it is best to check the specific rules that apply within your area with your local conservation officer.

If it does turn out that planning permission or listed building consent is required for your proposed shopfront security measures, you’ll need to apply to the Planning Department at your local council before you can proceed with any work.

Failure to apply for the necessary permissions to install shopfront security measures, or the fitting of security measures that do not conform with local council policies, will usually lead to the council serving an enforcement notice on you. This will require you to remove or alter the measures so that they are deemed acceptable. Non-compliance could lead to the council taking you to court.

Any development within a Conservation Area should achieve a high quality level of design which will preserve or enhance the area’s historic or architectural character or appearance. Anything that is unsympathetic in design, scale, appearance or use, or that does not retain original features and materials, will usually be refused.

It is important to be aware that it is a criminal offence to carry out any work that damages the historical or architectural importance of a listed building.

What is the problem with using roller shutters for shopfront security?

Solid external roller shutters are often a first choice for shop owners seeking to protect their property from theft and vandalism. However, it is considered by many local councils that roller shutters can have a detrimental impact on the appearance of a building, as well as on the character of the surroundings.

What’s more, it is believed that this type of measure may even have a reverse effect, creating a seemingly hostile environment that people are discouraged from frequenting after hours.

There is no denying that optimum protection from vandalism and crime in a commercial district comes from having a mixture of commercial and residential accommodation, which means that the streets will be frequented day and night, providing the area with  ‘natural surveillance’. So if people are discouraged from the area after dark, this strategy is going to fall flat.

Any security proposals which would lead to a loss of traditionally designed shopfronts or materials, including external roller shutters, will not usually be permitted, unless there are special circumstances.

If you wish to install external roller shutters, you will need planning permission. If your building is listed, you will need listed building consent.

In submitting your application for planning permission or listed building consent, you will need to demonstrate that the measure will be necessary; that the shutters will be designed as an integral feature of the frontage, and that the shop window display will be maintained.

Shopkeepers and building owners applying for roller shutter planning permission must provide justification for their use. Such justification might include a statement explaining the particular issue you are looking to resolve; a letter from your insurer or the police identifying previous incidents, and an explanation of how the visual impact of the shopfront security measures will be improved.

Looking for compliant shopfront security solutions?

Here at Barry Bros Security, we have been advising retailers on shopfront security for several decades.

If you are looking for solutions to protect your retail premises, back or front, we can help. Fully conversant with the typical restrictions laid down by local councils, we will help you navigate any planning hurdles, ensuring you ultimately end up with the best possible security measures for your needs.

To discuss your shopfront security requirements, you are welcome to get in touch, or call in to discuss your individual needs in person with a member of our team at our London showroom.

How Can We Help?

Regardless of the type of premises you are looking to protect, Barry Bros Security has the solution. Contact us today for expert advice and the benefit of decades of experience in the security industry.