Store’s illuminated signs in spotlight

July 30 2020
Store’s illuminated signs in spotlight

MORRISONS is facing opposition to its plans for new illuminated signs at its store on the edge of Wells.

The company has applied to Mendip District Council for the erection of signage including 14 illuminated and non-illuminated signs, which will replace the existing signs as part of a national refurbishment programme.

A number of local councillors are backing a petition that opposes illuminated signs visible from Palace Fields and Tor Hill because they spoil the “spectacular view”. Lois Rogers, a Wells district councillor, and city councillors Oliver Hartley and Rachel Humphreys have all said they will be signing the petition. Cllr Rogers added that the current signs are being illuminated in breach of consent, which expired nearly three years ago, and are often left on all night.

She said: “The breathtaking view of the Cathedral, the Levels and Glastonbury Tor as you come into Wells from Dulcote is generally regarded as the most spectacular view of the city. It is completely wrecked by this garish brand advertising plastered across the middle of it, particularly at dusk.”

Cllr Humphreys said: “There is no need for the lights to be on at night. It also ruins the view of our beautiful city as you drive in to Wells from Dulcote.”

The district council confirmed that advertisement consent for an illuminated sign at the store expired in 2017, and says it has received a complaint about the lighting arrangements. The original consent said that there should be no illumination earlier then 30 minutes before opening hours or later than 30 minutes after unless agreed in advance with the planning authority.

Morrisons say that the illuminated store sign is turned off at 10.30pm – the store closes at 10pm Monday-Saturday – and the petrol station sign at 11pm. The petrol station closes at 11pm Monday-Saturday.

But Cllr Rogers said: “The lights destroy the view of the sunset and are routinely left on all night. They simply should not be there at all.”

A Mendip District Council spokesperson said: “Advertisement consent for an illuminated sign at WM Morrisons, Wells, was granted on November 23, 2012, and expired five years from that date which was November 22, 2017. Technically this means the signage across the store building and associated petrol filling station is no longer authorised. It can be confirmed that the council has received a complaint about the lighting arrangements given the terms of the consent as it was issued in 2012 which restricted the timing when the lighting could be in operation.

“It can also be confirmed that a recent application has been submitted by an agent acting for WM Morrisons for a new scheme of advertising across the site. This application will  be assessed and determined in accordance with national and local planning policy frameworks and the council’s adopted scheme of delegation for decisions on planning application.”

A Morrisons spokeswoman said: “We recently submitted a planning application to renew the consent for the illuminated signs at our Wells store to Mendip District Council.

“We are listening to customers’ and local community views about lighting at the store and also await comments from the council.”

People who wish to comment on the application can email Mendip District Council on consultations@mendip.gov.uk, giving the planning reference number 2020/1281/ADV in the email subject box.

• Picture: Morrisons signs as seen at dusk from the road between Wells and Dulcote (Garfield Kennedy)