Family’s LGBT rainbow canopy in historic Bristol district branded ‘ugly’ in planning row

The rainbow canopy in Clifton, Bristol - Tom Wren/SWNS
The rainbow canopy in Clifton, Bristol - Tom Wren/SWNS

A row has erupted over a family’s “garish” LGBT rainbow canopy in a historic Bristol district.

The colourful awning sits on a property in The Paragon in Clifton – part of the city's most famous view from the Suspension Bridge.

Businessman Ken Aylmer, 52, said he painted the canopy in bright rainbow colours because his family are advocates of LGBTQ+ rights and as thanks to the NHS after a relative was treated for cancer.

However, he never obtained planning permission for the project, and has now been issued with an enforcement notice following several complaints that it was “ugly” and “inappropriate”.

A member of Clifton & Hotwells Improvement Society said: “This garishly painted canopy was drawn to the society’s attention some months ago, as a result of which we reported the matter to planning enforcement.”

They said the canopy was attached to a listed house which forms part of an “architecturally important terrace” in a prominent position in the conservation area.

Rainbow canopy on balcony in Clifton, Bristol - Tom Wren/SWNS
Rainbow canopy on balcony in Clifton, Bristol - Tom Wren/SWNS

“The bright rainbow colours are completely inappropriate and fail to blend with the colours of neighbouring properties," the society said.

“There is no evidence that such canopies were ever painted in anything other than monochrome,” it added.

Mr Aylmer has now applied for a retrospective Listed Building application, which has so far generated 47 letters of support with five objections.

He said that while he understands he and his family should have sought planning permission, he thought the canopy might make people smile and said Georgian England was not a “colourless, sombre place”.

‘We need to think of heritage’

“Fair enough, I do understand we should have sought permission. We thought it might put a smile on people’s faces as they look up from the Cumberland Basin,” he said.

“We realise the canopy is in the iconic view of Bristol so we do need to think of the heritage of the building. Our research showed that the Georgians loved colour, often painting all sorts of lead work in different hues, using the most colourful pigments they had. They used it for clothes and decorations, the past is not a dull, colourless, sombre place.”

Describing the Georgians as “flamboyant”, he said: “Brunel wanted sphinxes on the Suspension Bridge for heaven’s sake. So we do have a precedent from the Georgians themselves

“These buildings were always meant to be inspirational. If the canopy helps flag up Bristol’s modern social aspirations and values then we are all for it,” he said.