End of the road for A1 sign appeal

A NORTH Northumberland businessman has spoken of his disappointment after his appeal over a rejected sign on the A1 was dismissed, and also said he may take his appeal to the High Court.

Rod Smith, of the Barn at Beal, has been involved in a long-running battle to place a sign on his own land on the side of the A1 with both Northumberland County Council and the then Berwick Borough Council which has seen several previous planning applications turned down over the past three years.

Last month an appeal against the latest planning application refusal was heard in Berwick but the appeal was unsuccessful.

In his decision notice, issued on Tuesday, planning inspector Anthony Lyman wrote: “I conclude that the proposed sign would harm the interests of amenity and highway safety, and that, therefore, the appeal should not succeed.”

Speaking after the decision, Mr Smith said: “It’s of no great surprise when six people turned up with two solicitors to make a point and ensure I didn’t get my sign. I think it’s a shame not just for me but for all other businesses who have similar problems.

“There doesn’t appear to be any middle-ground despite having meetings and trying to find a way forward with Peter Rutherford (area development manager north).”

He also said that he was considering taking the appeal to the High Court.

“There are issues that need to come out and need to be resolved. If you can’t resolve local issues with local planners, there’s something drastically wrong with the system. Because I have got nowhere with the planners I feel as if my hands are tied and I have to go through the legal proceedings.”

Mr Smith added that depending on how this year goes he may have to consider redundancies as it will become hard to justify all full-time jobs out of season without sufficient advertisement of his business.

He previously put a movable sign on a horse cart on the appeal site only to be served with an obliteration notice by the council.

When the appeal was heard, the sign was still there but the council insisted it will proceed with enforcement action if the appeal is refused.