A Colne business have said they are "baffled" at Pendle Borough Council's request for them to remove their unapproved advertising banner from the town centre, with the council calling the banner "garish" and "totally inappropriate."
The Kip McGrath Education Centre, a tutoring agency on Market Street in Colne, has reacted with dismay at the decision, with Centre Director Thomas Davies claiming that the expense of replacing the banner could threaten his newly-established business and lead to students missing out on study time and tutors losing their jobs.
The council, however, insist that the business knew they had to have planning permission to put the banner up but did so without securing said permission. As a result, the council say that they have had numerous complaints about the banner.
“This banner has created a lot of concern and people have been contacting us to complain," said Neil Watson, Pendle Council’s Planning and Building Control Manager. "This is because of the size of the banner and also its garish colour which is totally inappropriate on a building which has a prominent position on Colne’s high street.
“The developer for Kip McGrath was aware that they needed planning permission," added Mr Watson. "They were also made aware that the site was a sensitive one and that any advertisement must not be an eyesore. They went ahead, however, and put it up without any planning permission, forcing us to take action to enforce planning law."
Insisting that he has read the planning legislation and that there are "scores" of infringements on Market Street alone, the Kip McGrath Education Centre's Director Thomas Davies said: “Quite simply, for any business to be successful we need to let our customers know we are here. Why we have been singled out when our banner is the best kept in the BB8 postcode area remains a mystery.
“You just need to look at the adjoining buildings: for example, Higgins Chambers is council-owned, unoccupied, and falling to bits," added Mr Davies. "Also, the truly unsightly case of what was once Blockbuster Video shows what happens when businesses fail and buildings are left to wrack and ruin. Ironically, the council have captured these eyesores in the photo evidence they may use to bring a prosecution against us."
An Ofsted-registered tuition centre, whose clients are often parents who are eligible for central government support, Mr Davies said that the centre has "no wish to fall out with" the council, who have offered guidance in helping them access funding through the ‘Grants for Growth’ scheme and a ‘Premises Improvement’ grant.
“Personally, I think the banner looks fantastic and it has generated a good deal of new business," said Mr Davies. "I’m proud to say we are already helping over 30 young people improve their maths and English and have brought a teacher out of retirement back in to employment.
“Since opening our doors we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from families and other local businesses," he added. "Now, I have to find the money to remove the banner and expose the rather unattractive brickwork; I am baffled as to who will benefit.”
Mr Watson continued: “There has to be a balance between advertising businesses and making sure adverts don’t have a poor effect on the look of our town centres. We can and do investigate all issues that we find or are brought to our attention and we dealt with 1579 alleged breaches of planning control last year. Those cases included unauthorised adverts which appeared around Pendle.
“We deal with each breach individually including unauthorised adverts in Colne," he said. "This case is one where the advertisement is extremely prominent and detrimental to the character of the area, which is why action has been necessary.”