Monday, 25 June 2018

Theatre trustees angry over sign plan

A ROW over plans by the Kenton Theatre to install an outdoor illuminated sign is set to continue.

A ROW over plans by the Kenton Theatre to install an outdoor illuminated sign is set to continue.

The trustees of the theatre in New Street, Henley, are seeking planning permission for a 3.7m x 60cm burgundy aluminium sign to be placed above the canopy and supported by decorative brackets in the same colour.

But town councillors have recommended the plans are refused and planning officials at South Oxfordshire District Council say the sign should be at least half the size.

Ed Simons, chairman of the trustees, failed to reach an agreement with officials from the district council at a meeting last week and now the decision rests with members of the council’s planning committee.

Mr Simons claimed the meeting was “a waste of time”, particularly for the theatre’s planning consultants who drove from Newcastle to be there.

He said: “The only suggestion they put forward was to make the sign half the size, which would mean dropping the word ‘Kenton’ or the word ‘Theatre’ but the building is known as the Kenton Theatre.

“We offered to change the size from 3.7m to 3m, which is the lowest the [Oxfordshire County Council] highways officer said would be allowed based on the number of letters and what could distract drivers.

“They were looking at between 1.8m to 2m. We might as well call it the K-Bar — it is illogical.”

Mr Simons said it cost the theatre £1,000 to prepare for the meeting, including taking readings to establish the extent of light pollution the sign would create following objections by a neighbour.“I do think it is a waste of charity money,” he said. “Our addition to the light in New Street is insignificant — the light from the sign would be significantly less than that of the street signs attached to the buildings.

“Henley Town Council turned it down on use and materials whereas the conservation officer said it is in keeping.

“One half of the street is entirely commercial and the other half has the theatre and offices. It is predominantly a commercial street and the theatre was there before the houses.”

Mr Simons said he was not hopeful of success at the planning committee meeting on March 13.

“I think it is bound to go to appeal,” he said. “Our planning consultants said they have never seen anything like it. We have got a conservation officer, health and safety, highways and the Theatres Trust, which advises theatres across the country, saying it should be fully supported.

“There isn’t a theatre in the country without a sign.

“We are not a bunch of cowboys who want to put a Perspex sign up. I understand that it is a historical building, the fourth oldest working theatre in the country, and its value.

“The theatre entertained 40,000 people in Henley [last year] at affordable prices and it is an attraction.”

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