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Shop front Improvement Scheme 2022/23

Frequently asked questions about the Shop front Improvement Scheme are listed below:

What is considered to be a 'shop front'?

A shop front is a street level shop frontage that is public facing and the trading frontage of a business, and which would usually be used to showcase goods. Non-retail businesses, including restaurants, hotels and charitable organisations, are also eligible to apply, where this description can be met.

Businesses within industrial estates are not eligible to apply.

A shop front does not include the amenity space/area of ground in front of a unit or any adjoining areas, such as boundary walls, nor does it include the upper floors of a building.

Do I require planning permission or any other statutory consent?

In the first instance, Planning will evaluate your application and advise if consents are required.  

You are responsible for obtaining any consent(s) required. More information can be found at  Planning applications.

Planning permission is required for any alteration that materially affects the external appearance of a building, including canopies/awnings and external security measures (and painting within conservation areas).

Listed building consent (separate from planning permission) is required for any alterations to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

It should be noted that many proposed signs will require advertisement consent.

Planning will review all shop front improvement applications following the deadline date of 31 January 2023. They will advise what, if any consents applicants require. This is subject to the information that the applicant has submitted.

It is the applicant's responsibility to submit applications for consents and a Permission to Start Letter will not be issued by the Community Anchor Group without proof of consents (reference number).

I am only proposing repair to my shop front, will I require to discuss this with the Planning Service?

It is unlikely if you are proposing a truly like for like repair of good quality that you will require consent, but you are encouraged to confirm this by seeking the advice of the Planning Service.

However, if your shop front is part of a listed building, even a small repair requires to be given careful consideration to ensure this is sympathetic to the character and matches materials used in the historic property.

What do we mean by 'like for like'?

The use of non-traditional style shop fronts/architecture will be discouraged in conservation areas and is unacceptable for listed buildings.

When considering your application we will be looking for the quality of the repair or replacement to have been given full consideration.

For shop front design principles, please refer to  Planning SG Shop Front Design Guidance (PDF 3.54Mb)

Do I need an agent/architect?

If you are required to apply for planning permission, advertisement consent or listed building consent you will be required to submit drawings to the Planning Service. You are advised to seek the advice of the Planning Service in relation to what would be suitable to inform your application.

If you are undertaking small works of repair to mend a component of your shop front, a photograph overlaid with a description of the works you would hope to achieve will be sufficient for the shop front application. If however you are looking to make a more substantial repair, or are planning to add to or replace any element of your shop front, a scale drawing will be required. If you are proposing to add a canopy for instance, a scale drawing would be required.

If the Planning Service feel that there is insufficient information to inform your application, they will come back to you with a specific request.

What alterations are eligible for this funding?

Please refer to the Shop Front Improvement Guidance for a full list of what is and is not eligible for funding.

It should be noted that original nineteenth century and early twentieth century shop fronts should be retained and restored wherever possible, and there will be a presumption against removal/alteration of surviving shop fronts that contribute to the architectural quality, or historic interest of the town centre.

You are reminded that we will be looking for assurances that repairs and replacement elements will be of good quality. Please note that replacement elements in UPVC within conservation areas are ineligible for funding.

I would like to apply towards the cost of re-painting my shop front, do I need planning permission for this?

If you have a property that is situated in a conservation area, you are required to make an application for planning permission.

View a list of Conservation areas in East Ayrshire.

Please seek the appropriate advice from the Planning Service.

Are professional fees eligible for funding?

Yes, the funding can be used towards the cost of architect, surveyor structural engineer and agent fees.

The funding can also be used towards statutory consent fees, including planning permission, advertisement consent, listed building consent and building warrant fees.

What paint colours are likely to be deemed appropriate?

You are encouraged to consider the look and feel of the streetscape when considering colour options.

You are encouraged to consider how your colour choice would enhance the streetscape. We would hope for a range of colours within the townscape.

For conservation areas, a sensitive colour palette is therefore promoted and you are expected to state what the final result will look like in your application. Please provide the British Standard Colour Chart number and where this is to be applied to masonry, a suitably breathable masonry paint should be used.

If successful for the funding, we strongly recommend that you buy and test a paint colour sample, prior to purchasing the paint.

Please seek the appropriate advice from the Planning Service.

Are canopies and awnings eligible for this funding 

Traditional flat projecting canvas sunblinds, which are hardwearing and fully retractable are eligible for this funding.

The style/design of the proposal should be sympathetic to the building and its existing features and should be restricted to the width of the individual window. The size of the canopy should also respect the proportions of the shop front.

The Planning Service will favour the use of traditional sunblind materials, such as woven materials or canvas, in preference to PVC or plastic; in neutral rather than bright colours. 

Planning consent is likely to be required.

If my application is successful, when will I receive a funding contract?

You will receive an offer of funding letter from the community anchor group once your application has been evaluated. You will be expected to sign and return a copy for their records.

In cases where you are awaiting consent from the Planning Service or Building Standards, the funding contract will include a clause to only commit funds should the relevant consent(s) be granted.

If my application is successful in securing funding award, when can i commence my project?

If you are successful in securing funding, and have all required consents approved and in place, you will be provided with a ‘permission to start’ letter advising you that you can begin works and start to claim your funding once work is completed and photos have been submitted.

 If i am successful in securing this funding, when can i request my first payment?

You will be provided with information on how to claim alongside your ‘permission to start’ letter. This funding will be paid retrospectively on receipt of evidence to show that the work has been undertaken and paid for.

Evidence includes an after photo and invoices (on the contractor's headed paper, and showing VAT registration number) detailing the work undertaken. Any works commenced before permission to start is given will not be eligible for this funding.

 Can I undertake works myself?

Yes, if you feel comfortable and experienced enough to undertake the work yourself to a high quality, you can make an application for funding towards the cost of goods only.

How do I invite contractors to quote?

You should seek written prices from contractors, and ensure that responses are provided on headed notepaper, or emails include relevant quality standard information.

Be specific about what it is you hope to achieve with your project to ensure the contractors fully understand what it is they are being asked to quote for, and send the same specification to each contractor to ensure a fair process.

Ask the contractors to send you a price breakdown and to give you an idea as to how they would go about undertaking the works, including when they would be able to fit you into their schedule. It may be that you would rather go with a higher price if the contractor is able to undertake the work earlier than the others for instance.

You might like to ask the contractor to follow the following example:

Invitation to quote – to be returned to:

[address] by [date]

[business address]

We have read the specification of work and the associated drawings (where required) referred to therein, and by returning this quotation confirm that we are willing to execute the whole of the said works described for the tender sum of:

[£value excluding VAT]

Broken down as follows:

[cost breakdown of all items]

Please provide any trade/quality marks

You are reminded that:

  • two quotes are required for works up to £999
  • three quotes are required for works with a value of £1,000 and over
  • we would encourage local traders to be used if possible as this supports the Love Local campaign which is part of Community Wealth Building (CWB)
  • would advise using the We would advise using the  East Ayrshire Trusted Traders Scheme

Deadline for applications

Applications will be accepted until 5pm on Tuesday 31 January 2023.

 If I don't manage to apply by 31 January 2023, will there be another round of funding?

If there is any residual funding beyond January 2023, Community Anchor Groups will revisit unsuccessful applications and will award to the next highest scored applicant.

If I am successful in securing funding when should I start and finish my project?

Your project can commence as soon as you are in receipt of your ‘permission to start’ letter and any consents required, and must be complete by 31 July 2023 to meet the conditions of the funding and to be able to draw down your funding in full.

You can draw down your funding after works are complete.

How do we know what to do next?

Follow the application process below:

  • read and download forms
  • satisfy yourself as to whether or not you require any statutory consents
  • draft a specification for the works and secure quotations
  • submit your fully completed application
  • your application will be assessed for eligibility, and a decision on your application made
  • you will be notified of the decision, and assuming you are successful an ‘Offer of Funding’ will be made
  • on securing all relevant statutory permissions you will be sent a formal ‘Permission to Start’ letter
  • on completion of the works, claim your funding (funding eligible works must be complete by 31 July 2023)
  • provide images showing the shop front before work starting, the works in progress and the end result

Contact Information


Community Led Regeneration Team
Council Headquarters
London Road
Telephone: 01563 576075