AN appeal has been lodged against the refusal of planning permission for an illuminated sign outside the Kenton Theatre in Henley.
The trustees applied for a 3.7m x 60cm burgundy aluminium sign above the canopy supported by decorative brackets to make the New Street theatre more visible to visitors.
South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee refused permission on the recommendation of Henley Town Council, which said the sign would be unneighbourly and inappropriate in the conservation area. Four neighbours also objected as did the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group, which urged the theatre to have a large hanging sign like one used by the Rose and Crown pub in the same street.
More than 1,000 people, including celebrities and peers, had signed a petition backing the theatre’s plans, which were supported by the district council’s conservation officer.
Ed Simons, chairman of the trustees, believes there is a good chance the appeal will succeed. He said: “I believe the letter from the conservation officer is compelling. I didn’t believe the district or town council would turn us down. I thought it was a done deal.”
Mr Simons said he was willing to compromise on the size of the sign but had refused the one suggested by district council officers before the committee’s decision.
“The compromise that was offered was a sign half the size with either the word ‘Kenton’ or ‘theatre’,” he said. “If the compromise was to reduce it from 3.7m to 3.1m then we may seriously consider it but we are not going for a hanging wooden pub sign swinging on the canopy.
“We are going down the path of appeal and hopefully we will be successful.”
Members of the planning committee made a site visit before they decided to refuse the application. A district council spokesman said the committee considered all aspects of the case officer’s report and the comments of the conservation officer.
“Prior to the meeting planning officers had offered, on a number of occasions, to work with the theatre to amend the application in a way that could have made it suitable for recommendation.
“Unfortunately, the theatre didn’t wish to make any changes. The application as submitted was clearly against policy and officers therefore recommended refusal.”