A major row has been sparked by claims that Garstang’s town centre historic heritage area is being marred by unauthorised advertising signs.
Conservation-conscious Coun Graham Salisbury has compiled a dossier, documented with photographs of signs he believes have a “detrimental effect” on the market town.
In a report given to Garstang Town Council Coun Salisbury suggested every sign within the Garstang Conservation Area required the necessary planning approval
Coun Salisbury, who runs Garstang-based planning agency GA Associates, has accused some business owners of erecting ‘non-compliant signs’ over the last few years and with support of the town council, is now demanding Wyre Council planners investigate and seek retrospective applications for the signs to be submitted.
The move threatens to upset several local business owners - as well as proving a headache for the planning department at Wyre Council.
Now Wyre planning bosses have hit back over the issue saying “it is not correct to say that every sign within the Garstang Conservation Area needs planning approval.”
Coun Salisbury said: “I realise this will be unpopular with some businesses, however protecting what is key to attracting visitors and business to our town has to take priority now and will be key to Garstang’s future success.
“There is a proliferation of large non-compliant signs which have been erected over the past couple of years in the town centre - their cumulative effect is damaging to the conservation area and the heritage of the town.”
Councillors backed Coun Salisbury’s proposal to send a letter to the Wyre Council planning department, the three Garstang ward members and the Garstang Chamber of Trade.
In the letter to the head of Wyre’s planning department David Thow, town clerk Edwina Parry stated: “The Town Council feel very strongly that the image of the town needs to be protected now and for future generations.”
In response a Wyre Council spokesman said: “Many signs may be erected with ‘deemed consent’ under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended).
“The council does not have the resources to constantly monitor all new signage across the borough but we are happy to investigate any reports of alleged unauthorised signs brought to our attention.
“It is an offence to display any advertisement which requires consent where such consent has not been granted.
“Nonetheless, if an unauthorised sign is considered to be acceptable in planning terms it would not be expedient to prosecute or seek the removal of the sign simply because it did not benefit from consent.
“If the town council provides us with details of those signs it is concerned about we will investigate to determine whether or not they require advertisement consent and whether it is expedient to seek the removal of any unauthorised signs.”
The Town Council is now expected to discuss its next move at their meeting on Monday, March 20.