Family loses battle to keep LGBTQ+ rainbow roof on Bristol’s iconic skyline

A family has lost the battle for a rainbow dome in support of the LGBTQ+ community and the NHS after council officers rejected a compromise, claiming it would continue to damage one of Bristol’s most iconic views.

Ken Aylmer says he will now restore the colorful design of his Grade II listed building in Clifton to what he described as a “giant pack of Pacers coins”.

The 52-year-old had repainted the canopy on a whim while he was having the roof repaired. The rainbow design was a tribute to the NHS after his wife recovered from cancer, while his daughter was a passionate advocate for LGBT+ equality.

Located on a tall crescent of buildings, the colors can be seen across the city skyline, which also includes the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

But last year Bristol City Council refused a retrospective planning application for the design. Despite more than 100 messages of support, a council official said the colors were not in keeping with the Grade II listed building and it was failing to preserve it.

What the rainbow canopy looked like before and after was painted by Ken Aylmer, who is now returning it to its original design
What the rainbow canopy looked like before and after was painted by Ken Aylmer, who is now returning it to its original design (Moon design)

In response, Mr Aylmer presented a compromise with a Georgian color palette design to match the terrace, but planning officers said there was “no clear and convincing justification for this damage” for the significance of the mention of the terrace and conversation area.

Speak with The independentsaid Mr Aylmer: “We felt this was an excellent compromise that respected the heritage of the building and the views whilst subtly representing Bristol’s modern aspirations and social values, or simply offering something beautiful to look at that would make someone’s day can cheer up.

“After a long time without communication or discussion, the planning department came back with a flat out ‘no’ and no real justification for their response.”

He added: “It was amazing and reassuring to receive so much support for our original application, with the vast majority of people in favor, so it’s a shame we now have to take it away.

“The LGBTQ+ community has much bigger battles to fight, but it would have been a nice gesture if the council had approved the second design to subtly integrate Bristol’s progressive values ​​of inclusivity and diversity into an iconic image that represents the city represents – rather than repainting what it looks like. like a giant pack of Pacers coins.

Pacers, originally known as Opal Mints, were recognizable by their three green stripes before being discontinued in 1985.

Ken Aylmer's compromise, retaining the original design's traditional alternating white stripes and using a Georgian color palette
Ken Aylmer’s compromise, retaining the original design’s traditional alternating white stripes and using a Georgian color palette (Moon designs)

Mr Aylmer said it was ironic that there were plans to light the Clifton Suspension Bridge in different colours.

The original planning application for the roof attracted 107 public responses and 34 objections.

Historic England said the vibrant colors caused a “modest degree of damage to the city”. [building] heritage value’.

Mr Aylmer announced he would return the canopy to its original design after Bristol City Council contacted him on Tuesday evening, reminded him he had breached building regulations and asked what he planned to do.

A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “The pre-application submission was rejected as it did not adequately address the reasons why the original submission was refused.

“While we understand the reasoning behind changing the canopy, the Paragon is a Grade II listed building and forms part of one of Bristol’s most iconic views.

“The changes to the canopy not only had an impact on the historical and cultural significance of the entire terrace, but were also unauthorized and illegal. We are pleased that the resident has now agreed to return the canopy to its original colors and we remain committed to preserving the city’s historic assets.

“Bristol City Council is also proud to offer our continued support for the LGBTQIA+ community. This is reflected in our internal and external practices and policies, as well as our support of Bristol Pride and other events each year.”

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