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Angry standoff in Cheltenham over business sign in Regent Street

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

Sign row:  Michelle Taylor outside Natural Therapeutics in Regent Street, Cheltenham

Sign row: Michelle Taylor outside Natural Therapeutics in Regent Street, Cheltenham

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A SHOP owner in Cheltenham town centre has entered a standoff with borough council planners over disputed signs outside her business.

Michelle Taylor, who runs Natural Therapeutics in Regent Street, has hit out at the authority after she was told to remove an overhead sign above her door because it was deemed to be protruding too much.

The 44-year-old reluctantly complied with the demand – only to be told she had to remove two other signs as well.

Incensed, she has refused – claiming it could kill her business – and has challenged the council to justify its stance.

"There is no way I am taking these signs down," she said.

"A business can't survive without signage to attract customers and I am no different.

"I took over this shop a year ago but it was here for eight years prior to that and these signs were never a problem – so why now?

"It's tough for everyone in retail at the moment. Since I took over I have been doing everything possible to make it work.

"But if I have to take these down it will almost certainly finish us.

"I'm not having that and I don't see why the council can't just be more supportive."

Michelle claimed her signs were no bigger than dozens of others being used by traders in the town centre.

"I took a look around and there are at least 20 signs the same or bigger than mine within a five minute walk," she added.

"I feel as if I am being victimised.

"Why is it that the council has suddenly decided to pick my shop out of all the others?"

She called on the authority to reconsider its position and in the meantime stoutly refused to take down the two remaining boards.

Martin Levick, senior planner at the borough council, said the request to remove the signs was part of a clampdown on shop advertising in the town centre – and that other shops would be affected.

He said: "Because this falls within the town centre conservation area planning consent is required for any signage.

"In this case however, consent was not sought for the signage and we have asked the owner to remove it.

"We are trying to work in partnership to try to find a sustainable signage option.

"We are investigating other shops in the area to see if appropriate consent has been sought for their signs as well."

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  • GlosAnarchy  |  November 11 2012, 3:36PM

    Nice to see that the red arrow badgers are at it again!

    |   1
  • tishwash  |  November 11 2012, 3:04PM

    @GlosAnarchy - Shows she has no defense :)

    |   1
  • GlosAnarchy  |  November 11 2012, 10:38AM

    No email address but I did find this - Conservation Enforcement Officer - 01242 264142

    |   1
  • GlosAnarchy  |  November 11 2012, 10:31AM

    "I took over this shop a year ago but it was here for eight years prior to that and these signs were never a problem – so why now?" In May 2009 there was a pastel yellow sign with another small sigh to the right, no over head sign board "above" her door, nowhere as conspicuous as the replacement shown in the picture. So what about the paint job? Google maps shows (may 2009) the walls bellow ground level as being blue (the same as the rest of the building) they are now white! Might just drop the council an email as could not find LBC for the paint job on-line! 4. DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS 4.1. Signs advertising the name and activities of an office will normally be limited to a professional plaque of appropriate design and materials, carefully located by the front door; the size of each plaque not to exceed 0.25 square metres. No other advertisements will normally be permitted on listed office premises, although several properly co-ordinated plaques may be required according to the number of firms occupying a building. 4.2. Where there is a different user in the basement, such as a shop, workshop, café, or hairdresser, a more prominent display is appropriate. This will normally need to be a sign in suitable lettering painted directly on to the render above the head of the basement windows and below any string course. Alternatively, appropriate freestanding individual letters applied carefully to the wall would normally be acceptable if they do not protrude too far and are of a suitable high quality material – not a shiny plastic. Any lettering must be discreet in terms of size, materials and finish. Conformity to a house style would not be sufficient justification for an appropriate typeface. The lettering should not be on a separate board and should have as its ground the main colour of the building. Any essential supplementary display, such as a menu, should be located as discreetly as possible. The basement area railings should not be encumbered with these or other notices. 4.6. Advertisements displayed in spaces between or below windows are inappropriate in virtually all cases, as are awnings in basement areas and signs projecting from the face of buildings. 4.7. Advertisements, whether fixed or removable, will not be permitted above ground floor level (e.g. on first floor windows or balconies) or on railings in front of or to the side of buildings.

    |   4
  • Willow_Wisp  |  November 10 2012, 12:27PM

    From the little I've been able to find out about this shop on-line, the place should be shut down anyway. Would be one less woo-merchant to worry about.

    |   1
  • gallopingbear  |  November 10 2012, 11:42AM

    The sign was deemed to be protruding too much? Isn't it a flat sign? Is there a hate campaign going on against this shop, as any supportive comments have also been red arrowed many times. I think this issue highlights a need for the council to revamp its policies regarding town centre traders and to start implementing new ones to help independents. No independent traders means Cheltenham is the same as any other town in the country and tourism will die off.

    |   10
  • Chan11  |  November 10 2012, 11:28AM

    OK Ms Taylor, you've had your free publicity, and your 15 minutes.

    |   -2
  • GlosAnarchy  |  November 10 2012, 11:02AM

    Conservation area map - http://tinyurl.com/adbhgaw Most minor alterations affecting external appearance (windows, roofing, installation of satellite dish, fencing and so on) are likely to require planning permission. So I would say the blue sign might just affect the "external appearance" A note to SKY installers, please check the maps as you don't ever check if planning permission is required when you install a dish, even if it's on a listed building! "Most authorities will only investigate suspected listed building offences on the receipt of complaints from concerned neighbors, passers-by or other informants"

    |   5
  • sscull  |  November 09 2012, 11:30PM

    I think it is very hard for businesses below street level such as this one to be spotted. They need to make themselves seen or it is very easy to walk past and not know they are there. I also understand that a careful balance is needed between 'regency Cheltenham' and the fact that these buildings are now being used for retail. I think in this case these signs let you know that the shop is there without detracting from the building that they are in. Also the owner has not resorted to placing an a-frame on the pavement which I appreciate. I much prefer a sign to a thousand wasted flyers being put through my door any day.

    |   10
  • tishwash  |  November 09 2012, 8:58PM

    How do you know the other firms haven't been asked, have you asked them ? Do they have permission for their signs ? Have you asked the council why you're being treated differently or did you just run to the papers? The Signs look horrid, go look at them in person.

    |   -2

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