THE owners and tenants of a historic shopping street in Kendal say they are facing opposition in their efforts to 'revitalise' their shopfronts.

New Shambles, a quirky alleyway lined with independent traders in the centre of town, has been the subject of plans to repaint and refurbish its unique fascias with a bright colour palette to attract visitors to the boulevard.

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Trustees of the Kendal Unitarian Chapel, who own the Grade II Listed buildings that the shops occupy, and the business owners, are in agreement about the plans but have faced an obstacle in South Lakeland District Council's Conservation department, according to Unitarian Chapel Treasurer and Buildings Manager John Campbell.

"There has been no official application made yet, but some of the tenants had a meeting with an SLDC Conservation Officer, and they were told that the proposed colour scheme was too bright, and would change the character of the building," he said.

The Westmorland Gazette: A mock-up of the proposed colour schemeA mock-up of the proposed colour scheme

"Of course, it's going to change the character of the building, that's what we want - this street is full of wonderful, quirky traders, and at the moment, the shopfronts are looking a little tired and drab.

"Kendal BID and Kendal Futures have these wonderful ideas for Kendal to brighten up the town and make it cheerful, and when we compare it with towns like Skipton and even Ulverston, I fear Kendal is lagging behind a little.

"I am all in favour of sensible conservation, but it must work for the good of the town."

A spokesman for SLDC said:  "Kendal’s rich history and built heritage, including the town's famous yards such as New Shambles - form a large part of its charm, character, and popularity. 

The Westmorland Gazette: The New Shambles, a former butchers' arcadeThe New Shambles, a former butchers' arcade

"As a council we are always seeking the right balance between conserving historic buildings, promoting the merits of good design, and helping to create the best conditions for the local economy to thrive.

"Well-kept shopfronts are a very important element of the street scene and SLDC is match-funding Kendal BID's shopfront grants scheme.

"As part of this, applicants are asked to confirm that they understand their project may require planning approval before work starts. 

"New Shambles is in the Kendal Conservation Area and many of its properties are Grade II listed, so they would normally require Listed Building Consent for works such as a change of paint colour that would materially alter the building's character or appearance.

"The council’s Conservation Officer has offered informal advice to the traders at New Shambles regarding an appropriate palette of heritage paint colours for their refurbishment scheme which would not require Listed Building Consent. 

"Our door is open to discussions with traders and property owners about their ambitions for the refurbishment scheme but these have to be sympathetic to the character of the buildings in the Conservation Area."