Totem sign bid at Hexham facing opposition

Plans for a totem sign at Hexham are facing opposition amid fears it will detract from the town's conservation area and listed buildings

Astley Hexham signs
Hexham signs

A bid to put up a totem sign at a Northumberland retail park is facing opposition amid claims the site “belongs on the Team Valley rather than in a historic market town”.

An application seeks advertisement consent for the 4.5m internally illuminated sign at the entrance to Tyne Valley Retail Park at Hexham, within the town’s conservation area, promoting stores there.

However, Hexham Town Council, Hexham Civic Society, three residents and Northumberland County Council building conservation officials have all objected, on the basis that the “garish” sign will detract from the conservation area and nearby listed buildings - including the town’s railway station.

Yet despite the opposition, county council chiefs are recommending permission be granted at a meeting on Wednesday.

The application from Network Rail is for the retail park on the former Hexham Goods Yard at Station Road, with the middle sections of the sign arranged to reflect railway sleepers.

It follows the refusal of a previous bid for a 7m aluminium totem sign earlier this year.

Objections have come in from the town council, civic society, three residents and county council building conservation officials.

Roger Higgins, chairman of the civic society - whose colleague Peter Arnold will be speaking at Wednesday’s meeting, told The Journal: “We are objecting to it on the basis that it is essentially unnecessary given the already extremely prominent buildings on the site which already each have very large pieces of signage attached to them.

“It is over large, it does not reflect anything of the character of the conservation area, of nearby listed buildings.”

Astley Hexham signs
Hexham signs
 

Town and county councillor Cath Homer, who is also to speak at the meeting, added: “There is a number of listed buildings nearby, to have a sign that is illuminated.

“When you drive past, the shops in the retail park are visible from the roadside.

“You can see what is there. It is just unnecessary and not really in keeping with the conservation area.”

One of the objecting residents wrote: “I object to this application for an overly large sign.

“This area is, after all, within the Hexham Conservation Area, and although the old Goods Yard now looks like it belongs on the Team Valley rather than in a historic market town, there is no good reason to make things look even worse.

“There is plenty of opportunity for drivers and pedestrians alike to see what is on offer at this new ‘retail park’ without this intrusive signage next to a listed building (the train station).”

Mr Arnold’s letter referred to the sign as “ugly and outlandish” and another resident labelled it “garish.”

Despite the objections, the county council’s West area planning committee is being recommended to approve the application.

Network Rail declined to comment.

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