The NatWest bank, headquarters in Edinburgh, has applied to “Improve our Presence” in Marlow. This consists of the improvement of the sober frontage of its building at 7 High Street with a purple façade, an illuminated projecting sign and a purple surround to the ATM. The application was made without any local consultation and even the bank manager was not informed.

The WDC Conservation Officer has responded by pointing out aspects of the application that are “highly detrimental to the character and appearance of the designated heritage assets of the conservation area and the setting of various listed buildings. This is a disappointing application as earlier iterations of the NatWest designs for conservation area locations were considerably more location sensitive”. NatWest has now submitted amended drawings and intends to have further discussions with the planning officers but we can still expect the garish purple façade with internally illuminated lettering to remain as an integral part of the proposed “improvement”. If you agree with me that we must protect the appearance of our High Street please lodge your objection to planning application 14/07634/ADV reminding the WDC of its policy HE12 which states “Attention should be given to the design, size and location of signs so that they preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. Materials are also vitally important to good design (see also Policy G25 ‘Advertisements and Signs’ and HE7 ‘Use of Materials in Conservation Areas’)”.

I hope you agree with me that we are all able to locate the NatWest bank in Marlow with its current façade and that purple fascia and additional lighting will not be of any advantage to the town. Let us hope that the bank’s Edinburgh based staff will recognise that Marlow has an individual and highly prized High Street that really does not need a remote and blanket corporate decision to “Improve its Presence”. – Martin Blunkell, Chairman, The Marlow Society