Sign which sparked row in Northumberland village is rejected by council

The sign, located in the entrance to Montagu Avenue, for the Cussins development on Guilden Road.
The sign, located in the entrance to Montagu Avenue, for the Cussins development on Guilden Road.

A developer has been refused permission for a sign advertising its new housing scheme in a north Northumberland village.

A retrospective bid by Cussins to retain the advertisement, for its development at Guilden Road in Warkworth, had been recommended for approval at the North Northumberland Local Area Council meeting last Thursday (February 21), but it was turned down by 10 votes to one.

The sign, as viewed from the other side of Morwick Road.

The sign, as viewed from the other side of Morwick Road.

Coun Jeff Watson, who represents Amble West with Warkworth, moved refusal, saying: “It’s only the stubbornness of the builder which is leaving us with this decision.”

Coun Robbie Moore added: “I don’t see any benefit to this sign.”

Planning officers advised the committee that advertisement consent bids were different to planning applications, with the refusal reasons confined to the impact on visual amenity, having a dominant appearance on its setting or highways-safety grounds.

The parish council and 15 neighbours had lodged objections, raising concerns on issues of highways safety, ‘such as people entering Monatgu Avenue in the belief it is Guilden Place and then having to turn around in the roadway and the impact on the visual amenity of the street-scene for a sign that is remote from the development it advertises’.

But the planning officer concluded that the placard, on the corner of Morwick Road and Montagu Avenue, should be granted advertisement consent, ‘as it does not have an undue negative impact on the visual amenity of the area and does not have an overly dominant appearance within its setting’.

The council’s highways team added that it ‘is not within junction visibility splays and therefore does not restrict views of drivers exiting the junction onto Morwick Road’.

The local area council opted to reject the proposal based on its impact on visual amenity.

However, the report to councillors had also explained that ‘officers are mindful of an appeal decision for a sign at land south of Beal Bank that allowed a similar sign on the basis that the advertisement graphics would not be particularly large or garish in composition and form, nor would the sign be illuminated’.

This is not the first time that the developer’s Guilden Place development has sparked controversy.

Last year, the local area council reluctantly approved new landscaping plans after what objectors described as ‘an act of environmental vandalism’.

Planning officers had recommended new planting and changes to the original landscaping condition as the best way forward, after 172 metres of hedge and landscaping was incorrectly removed from the northern boundary of the site.

This was blamed on an error in the plans in that the hedgerow did not actually sit on the boundary as thought, sparking an apology from the Alnwick-based house-builder.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service