Businessman fights on over A1 signs

THE ISSUE of signs on the A1 continues to affect rural businesses, as one celebrates getting permission while another takes its fight to appeal.

Sunnyhills of Belford was granted advertisement consent for a sign next to the A1 at the last area planning committee north, overturning the recommendation of the planning officers.

And on Thursday in Berwick, Rod Smith, of the Barn at Beal, was involved in an appeal hearing against Northumberland County Council’s refusal of permission for a sign next to the A1, which a planning inspector will decide upon in the next three weeks.

Andrew Young, managing partner of Sunnyhills, said that he wasn’t surprised that the planning committee rejected the recommendation because they went about the application in the right way.

“There was great support from the local councillors and I think we went about it by liaising with the relevant departments and listened to what they had to say,” he said.

“I think the way we handled it and the location we chose helped our application, as it’s on a very straight piece of road.

“Communities such as Belford are struggling to attact business in terms of attractions and appeal. They are second citizens compared to places like Bamburgh, Seahouses and Holy Island, and any mechamism to draw people in should be supported and I think the councillors that supported it, that was their opinion.”

At Thursday’s appeal, Mr Smith pointed out the examples of other businesses in the area such as Sunnyhills.

He said: “Haggerston Castle has banners, flags and illuminations and that is less than half a mile from me and yet it’s deemed visually acceptable. As for the Sunnyhills sign which has recently been approved, I would say my sign has a superior backdrop of a woodland and that the speeds of traffic going past their sign will be considerably higher than those going past mine.”

But Mr Smith faces strong objections from both the county council and the Highways Agency on the grounds of visual amenity and safety.

Currently, Mr Smith has a promotional sign on a horse cart which was served with an obliteration notice.