Saturday, 05 December 2020

Kenton calls in big guns of theatre world in sign war

A PETITION has been launched by trustees of the Kenton Theatre to support its application for an illuminated sign.

A PETITION has been launched by trustees of the Kenton Theatre to support its application for an illuminated sign.

Ed Simons, chairman of the trustees, says that he hopes to get 1,000 signatures — plus letters from impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh and lyricist Tim Rice — to present at next Wednesday’s planning committee meeting.

The trustees of the theatre in New Street, Henley, are seeking permission for a 3.7m x 60cm burgundy aluminium sign to be placed above a 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.

Volunteers were out on the streets of Henley yesterday (Thursday) and will continue until Sunday to get signatures from residents and traders round the town to support the sign.

Mr Simons, who lives in Wargrave Road, said: “If 1,000 people are saying that the council is acting wrongly and they don’t take notice of that then they are not acting on the will of the people.

“The conservation officer is behind it. The highways people are behind what we have done. And the health and safety people — in terms of light pollution — are also behind it.

“It is not for the council to come up with spurious reasons to stop us doing it. If the conservation officer said ‘Stop!’ then we would have no option.”

He added: “The Kenton is a charity and we are spending charitable funds fighting what we shouldn’t have to. The council needs to wake up and understand that if people want this then it should be allowed.”

Earlier this month, Mr Simons met with district council officers to reach a compromise but they failed to reach an agreement.

The theatre had offered to reduce the size of the sign from 3.7m to 3m, which is the lowest that Oxfordshire County Council highways would accept.

Mr Simons said: “The district council’s compromise was that we could have a sign half the size with the word ‘Kenton’ or the word ‘Theatre’ but we might as well call it the K-Bar — it is like having Manchester without United or London without Palladium.

“As you can imagine, we are pretty incensed and baffled by the stance of the Henley and district councils in not accepting that the Kenton should have a sign that has been agreed by the conservation officer.”

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