Blinds and Security
Blinds are an established feature in shopping streets, particularly on shops selling perishable goods or delicate materials that deteriorate in sunlight. For over a hundred years traditional blinds, in the form of a straight canvas awning or roller blind, were added to buildings in a way which did not affect their individual character or that of the overall street scene. In recent years the introduction of Dutch blinds and ‘blister’ blinds (curved in three dimensions) has had an adverse effect on the character of many shopping streets, particularly where blinds are used primarily as an advertisement rather than as a means of providing shade or shelter. Traditionally, shop blinds were of white canvas, perhaps with the name of the shop inscribed in decorative lettering, or of green, blue, or red and white stripes like deckchair material. In general, plastic Dutch blinds should be avoided and traditional canvas-finish roller blinds used. The roller box should be fitted neatly into the top of the fascia cornice, so as to be relatively unnoticeable when the blind is retracted.
Planning permission is required for the installation of blinds, and Listed Building Consent in the case of listed buildings. The leading purveyors of traditional shop blinds in London are:
Deans Blinds (Putney),
Unit 4, Haslemere Industrial Estate,
London SWI8 4RL
Tel: 020 8947 8931
Fax: 020 8947 8336
Radiant Blinds Ltd.,
259 Burlington Road,
Surrey, KT3 4NE
Tel : 020 8949 8288
Fax : 020 8949 5211
Before the 1830s, shop windows were closed at night with wooden shutters, held in slots within the stall board and the soffit of the fascia, and secured with iron bars. Such a system can still work perfectly well, though shopkeepers may be reluctant to take down and put up the shutters every day. Some sets of original shutters survive in parts of Covent Garden. It is important to consider shop security as early as possible in designing a new front so that whatever method is used can be incorporated as unobtrusively as possible, to maintain an attractive daytime and night time frontage.
Glazing bars can be reinforced behind with iron or steel, and a brick or concrete wall can be built behind the wooden stall riser if the shopkeeper fears that part of the front may be vulnerable to break-in or vandalism. Solid roller shutters and projecting roller shutter box housings generally detract from the appearance of a shop front. Tough laminated glass or internal lattice shutters are generally more suitable alternatives. Removable mesh grilles fitted over the window are cumbersome but are considered more appropriate than fixed shutter systems. External security shutters normally require planning permissions, and in the case of listed buildings, Listed Building Consent.
An alternative means of protection for shop fronts is Security Film which forms a low profile system almost invisible after installation. It has been specially developed in various thicknesses up to 7000 (thou). It has considerable flexibility and elasticity and the combined strength of the film and glass considerably reduces the chance of the glass breaking during an attack.
(Pro-Tech Window Films Tel: 01962 735700).