What was described as a ‘grand entrance’ to the Cheshire Oaks area has been rejected by a planning inspector.
Paul Singleton backed the borough council’s decision to refuse a digital display proposed on Kinsey Road, Ellesmere Port, opposite the Sainsbury's filling station by Mayfair-based property investment and development company Lateral Property Group.
The 11.5m high feature, revised down from more than 14m, would have been positioned close to the TGI Fridays/KFC/Old Hall Farm pub access where a Costa drive thru has also been built.
It was argued the freestanding design in a landscaped grass verge had been inspired by Chester’s Tudor architecture.
Residents, parish councillors and highways engineers all referred to safety concerns as the sign would be on the busy dual carriageway at the approach to the Cheshire Oaks outlet village.
The display would change at a minimum of 10 second intervals, planners were told.
Consent was withheld, leading to the appeal, as the feature would be over prominent and a major distraction which would confuse drivers.
The main issues were the effect on amenity and public safety, according to the inspector.
He pointed out the Cheshire Oaks Outlet Village and the nearby retail and leisure developments fronting Kinsey Road had been designed to be low rise new build set within an extensive landscaped setting.
When approaching on Kinsey Road, the low height of the outlet village buildings and the very limited and low key nature of signage at their rear meant the large scale of the designer outlet was not readily apparent.
The Sainsbury’s store and car park were largely hidden behind boundary hedging and trees and the TGI Friday and KFC units had limited visual impact due to their pitched roofs and landscaped setting including a wide background of tall trees and vegetation.
The display would introduce a large vertical feature which would be much taller than any of the buildings within the immediate vicinity of the site and taller than many of the trees.
It would represent a ‘harmful intrusion’ into the landscape setting of the existing development while the digital display would be out of keeping.
As the large majority of visitors to Cheshire Oaks would be likely to use Kinsey Road as their route into the outlet village the adverse effect of the signage ‘would be experienced by very large numbers of passers-by and would cause substantial harm’.
The tall and out-of-keeping sign would also be in the view of drivers and passengers leaving the McArthurGlen outlet.
The company drew attention to the 33m tall outlet village sign alongside the M53 motorway but the inspector suggested this served as the main signage for the outlet village as a whole.
The council and the operators of the outlet village had achieved ‘a good degree of success’ in encouraging shared signage at key locations which also included signage for the adjacent Sainsbury’s store.
The inspector felt the feature would be likely to add to rather than reduce the proliferation of signage in the area.
The proposal, with a regularly changing display, would be likely to distract many drivers when their concentration on the road and surrounding traffic was critical.
He dismissed the appeal.