Objection: Planning Application ref 07/0809/ADV

The application is for the installation of an internally illuminated, double-sided, projecting sign and a 15 metre long, internally illuminated fascia sign.As local residents, we oppose this application on the grounds of

  1. its contravention of local policy;
  2. the light pollution impact on local residents;
  3. the impact on the visual appearance of the area at night.

1. Contravention of Local Policy

The applicant’s Planning Design and Access Statement (JM/BR/8283) states that the applicants have given consideration to 1997 Cambridge City Council guidance on shopfronts and signage (Planning Design and Access Statement). The 1997 Cambridge Shopfront Design Guide states in unequivocal terms that ‘On buildings where illuminated signs are acceptable, the light source should be discreet […] Illuminated box fascias will not be acceptable.’[1] Tesco’s application runs counter to the Council’s design guide both on the grounds that it is proposing an illuminated box fascia and that a 15 metre-long illuminated sign cannot reasonably be considered discreet in this context. The application thus entirely disregards one of the clearest provisions in the guidance.

2. Light Pollution and Local Residents

The planning application gives little detail about the proposed signage. However, the Planning Design and Access Statement asserts that the signage ‘will not be excessive in size or luminance’ (paragraph 4.21, p. 13).[2] Although no specific details are given of luminance (we are not sure why Tesco have omitted details of precisely how bright their sign would be, given that they make this claim), it seems clear that any such sign will have a serious light pollution impact on residential properties in the immediate area of the sign – most obviously the occupants of the flat at 161A Mill Road, which is on the first floor of the building next to 163-167, and which faces out onto Mill Road, immediately next to and above the proposed sign. This light pollution will affect local residents every night until 11.30 – the proposed hour of closing.

3. The impact on the visual appearance of the area at night

As noted above, the Planning Design and Access Statement claims that the signage ‘will not be excessive in size or luminance’; it also asserts that ‘the proposed new shopfront and signage will be in keeping with the level and location of the signage already existing at the site’ (4.19) and that it ‘will have no impact on the current front elevation of the property or the streetscape on Mill Road’ (4.25, p.12). We disagree; we consider a 15 metre-long, illuminated sign to be excessive in size relative to the size of shopfronts and fascias in the surrounding area and that it will clearly have a very substantial and deleterious impact on the night-time streetscape of this area of Mill Road. An illuminated sign of this size will dominate the area; it will most certainly not, as Tesco contend, ‘match that of existing retail units within the surrounding retail centre, therefore maintaining the visual amenity of the locale’ (Planning Design and Access Statement, 5.4). No internally illuminated fascia of this size currently exists in this area. The Wilco sign previously attached to the front of the building was the same length as the one proposed but it was not accompanied by an internally illuminated, double sided projecting sign, as proposed here, and was not illuminated. The only other fascia of comparable size in the immediate vicinity is that of the Co-op, which is not internally illuminated and which is also not accompanied by an internally illuminated, double sided projecting sign. Since the existing, much smaller illuminated fascia at 15, The Broadway, for example, clearly predates the 1997 guidance (to judge from its design) it would not be reasonable to compare a pre-existing divergence from the policy with the current proposal to introduce a new sign that runs counter to the Council’s policy. Thus, the introduction of these two illuminated signs will have a dramatic and negative impact on the visual character of the area.

The No Mill Road Tesco Campaign

[1] Cambridge Shopfront Design Guide (1997), p.17, paragraph 14 (http://www.cambridge.gov.uk/ccm/content/development-control/leaflets/shopfront-design-guide.en)

[2] References to specific paragraphs in this section of the Planning Design and Access Statement are complicated by the fact that the paragraph numbering after 4.28 starts from 4.12 again. To ensure the clarity of references in our submission, page numbers as well as paragraph numbers are given for all references to section 4.

Comments are closed.