Charity wins appeal over shop signs

A charity shop was refused permission for new signs because the council said they were “too thick” and “too complex” for a historic area, but the Planning Inspectorate has reversed that decision.

The fascia sign was added to the Severn Hospice premises, in Wellington, as part of a refit last summer, and the owners of the 180-year-old building applied for retrospective consent for it and an additional hanging sign shortly after.

Telford and Wrekin Council turned this down, saying a “more sympathetic”, preferably hand-painted, design would be more appropriate for the grade II listed building, as it stood in a “highly sensitive” part of the town’s conservation area.

But government-appointed inspector Gareth Thomas allowed Telford Design and Development Ltd’s appeal, granting permission for the signs.

A report by council planning officers, compiled ahead of the initial refusal in March 2020, said: “The design of the retrospective Severn Hospice sign is too complex, by virtue of text, logo and colours. This has resulted in a less than substantial harm to the listed building and the conservation area.

“The sign is also considered too large, dominating the fascia on the principal elevation.

“The proposed hanging sign, by virtue of its thickness, would result in an incongruous form of development.

“Given that the benefits of the signage, to advertise a charity shop, could be achieved by a more sympathetic design, the harm is not outweighed by the public benefit.”

But, in a Planning Inspectorate decision notice published this week, Mr Thomas overturns the council’s decision and gives five-year planning consent for both signs.

“The appellant indicates the hanging sign may no longer be required,” Mr Thomas adds.

“However, as they form part of the applications and design notices, I have considered the merits of both signs.”

He adds that the main issue was the signs’ potential impact “on the special architectural and historic interest of the grade II listed building” that dates from around 1840 and incorporates the shop, and whether the plans “preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Wellington Conservation Area”.

Mr Thomas writes that the Market Square building is in a “highly sensitive” part of the zone.

“The significance of the heritage asset is largely derived from the elegant and largely intact original frontage and from its position as part of a group that surround the square, forming an attractive late-Georgian and Victorian streetscape.”

The new fascia sign, Mr Thomas writes, is “an appropriate and restrained design response with the raised lettering and logo not particularly prominent.”

He adds: “Whilst the council would prefer to see hand-painted fascia signs, I do not find that that the materials utilised here are unacceptable.

“Furthermore, the appellant points to several instances within the conservation area where raised acrylic lettering has been successfully utilised.”

He adds the hanging sign is “entirely appropriate” too.

Allowing the appeal, he adds: “The signs would, at least, preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

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