Agenda item

Planning Application CR/2022/0384/ADV - Land at Haslett Avenue East, Three Bridges, Crawley

To consider report PES/408bof the Head of Economy and Planning.

 

RECOMMENDATION to CONSENT.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered report PES/408b of the Head of Economy and Planning which proposed as follows:

 

Retrospective advertisement consent for 1x illuminated 48-sheet digital display.

 

Councillors Ali, Burrett, S Mullins, Pritchard, and Raja declared they had visited the site.

 

The Principal Planning Officer provided a verbal summation of the application, which sought consent for a digital advertisement display sign on land next to Haslett Avenue East.  The application was retrospective as the sign was already erected – however a new application was required as the position and structure of the sign were different to those approved as part of the previous application.  The Officer then gave details of the various relevant planning considerations as set out in the report.

 

Philip Allard, on behalf of the applicant, spoke in support of the application.  Matters raised included:

·       The sign was unable to be built in the agreed position due to the discovery of underground cabling and piping.  It was constructed slightly further back than was approved.

·       The tree that had been removed from the site during construction of the sign was on private land and was not protected under a Tree Preservation Order.

·       The sign had operated in accordance with illumination requirements since it was erected.

 

John Cooban, a local resident, spoke in objection to the application.  Matters raised included:

·       The loss of the tree was disappointing.  Any unnecessary tree loss should be avoided.

·       The original application form stated that no trees were present at the site, which was incorrect.  Had the tree been declared, an assessment of its amenity value would have taken place which may have led to its protection.

·       The sign should not set a precedent for other large digital displays to be approved and erected across the town.

 

The Committee then considered the application.  In response to a query regarding the height of the sign, the Planning Officer confirmed that the combined height of the display and the structure/stand was approximately 6.5 metres.

 

Committee members raised safety concerns regarding the positioning of the sign next to a highway, which may be distracting for drivers in what was a high traffic area.  The Planning Officer confirmed that, prior to the installation of the current sign, a similarly sized advertisement sign was consented at the site and thus the principle of signage at the site was already established.  It was also highlighted that West Sussex County Council was consulted on the proposals and had no objection on highway safety grounds.

 

In response to queries from the Committee, the Planning Officer confirmed that the brightness of the display was regulated via a condition which established two maximum brightness levels – for daylight hours and for darkness hours – which were set in statute.  Some Committee members identified occasions where the display had been too bright for the conditions; the Planning Officer gave assurance that the brightness could be measured and if it exceeded the consented level, it could be reduced to an acceptable level.  It was also highlighted that there were instances where some of the panels on the screen were observed as having frozen, and at a higher brightness than was appropriate for the time of day, and there were concerns that this too was distracting for motorists.  The Planning Officer confirmed that condition 1(C) required that the visual amenity of the site not be impaired.  A malfunctioning display could be classed as a breach of that condition. 

 

A Committee member raised a further concern regarding a small section of the sign, underneath the main display, which showed an illuminated logo.  It was queried whether this part of the sign was on the original plans and also whether it was subject to the same illumination requirements as the main display as it had been observed operating at a higher brightness.  The Planning Officer confirmed that the section in question did not appear on the plans, so did not form part of the advertisement consent application and could therefore be open to investigation.  Committee members expressed disappointment regarding the non-compliance with the plans.

 

Committee members shared concerns regarding the loss of the tree at the site.  The Planning Officer confirmed that the tree was not protected so its felling was not contradictory to policy, and there was no power to require the applicant to replace the tree.  Nevertheless, the Committee was of the view that it was always good practice to plant a replacement tree when felling was unavoidable.  A Committee member proposed that the following informative be attached to the consent, were it to be granted: ‘The applicant is encouraged to plant and thereafter retain a tree to replace the tree that was felled when the sign was erected’.

 

The Committee then voted on the recommendation to grant consent as set out in the report (with the inclusion of the additional informative), which was overturned.

The Head of Governance, People & Performance advised on procedure following the overturn of an officer’s recommendation. The Committee discussed alternative proposals at length and revisited key points from its discussion.  Concerns regarding issues of the sign not complying with any consent granted were once again raised, particularly regarding the additional section of the sign which was not part of the approved plans.  It was agreed that this matter was a significant element of the Committee’s vote against permission.  The Committee formed a further informative in respect of this which, alongside the previously agreed informative regarding the replacement tree, was to be attached to the consent.  This proposal was moved and seconded.

 

The Committee then voted on the proposal to grant consent to the application subject to the two additional informatives.

 

RESOLVED

 

Consent subject to the conditions set out in report PES/408b and the following informatives:

 

1.       The applicant is encouraged to plant and thereafter retain a tree to replace the tree that was felled when the sign was erected.

 

2.       The consent hereby granted does not apply to the illuminated name sign below the illuminated 48-sheet digital display.  The illuminated name sign does not have advertisement consent and could therefore be subject to enforcement action.

 

Supporting documents: