Town councillors in Burnham-On-Sea have voted unanimously to object against plans to install a large new electronic advertising billboard in place of a street art display on the side of Burnham-On-Sea’s Ritz Cinema.

Councillors have given a ‘thumbs down’ to the plans from The Ritz Social Club in Victoria Street, which has submitted an application to Sedgemoor District Council to introduce a new 6m x 3m illuminated digital display on the north-facing cinema wall.

Councillors on the planning committee heard concerns from nearby resident Ollie Hulme  who called the plans “monstrous” during their latest meeting.

He said: “For those of us who would have to live with this device towering over our properties, creating light pollution and badly affecting the way this area looks, this application is entirely unacceptable.”

He claimed the billboard would cause a “harm to safety given that a big illuminated screen with changing imnages would pose a distracting danger to car drivers and others on the road” and that the billoard would also be out-of-character with the surrounding area give its brightness and appearance.

He added: “This application is monstrous. It will affect all our lives, affect the value of our homes and damage the appearance of this area.”

Town councillors unaimously agreed to object against the scheme on the grounds of light pollution, design and safety.

Paul Thacker from Turnkey Design Partnership, on behalf of the applicant, had stated: “The proposal is for an advertising display, with static illuminated advertising, which in our client’s opinion will cause no material harm to either amenity or public safety.”

“Measuring 6m in width and 3m in height, the new advertisement would comprise a pressed metal and reinforced plastic frame which would enclose a digital display.”

“It would present a range of static images. A new image will materialise every 10 seconds with the interchange between each image virtually instantaneous. Advertisements would not contain any movement, animation or special effects.”

He adds: “The display would be limited to 300 candela/sq at night. Advertisements would therefore accord with the Institute of Lighting Professionals best practice guidance; The Brightness of Illuminated Advertisements PLG05 2015.”

“The proposed display is operated and regulated remotely, removing the need for frequent site visits. What this means in reality is that there are no regular visits by poster vans, usually parking adjacent to the site, removing waste and fuel usage and obviously removing any health and safety implications of putting the signs up with each new campaign.”

“The sign also has the ability to display ‘emergency public information’ such as Covid related health information.”

“It is also proposed to remove all the current graffiti from the northern wall and repaint to match the other facades.”

“The illuminated digital display would face towards southbound traffic travelling along Victoria Street. The highway is mixed in character, well-lit and reasonably level, providing excellent forward visibility on approach to the site, allowing drivers to glance at any advert far in advance without being distracted from the road ahead.”

“Under these circumstances such a familiar urban feature would not constitute a potentially hazardous distraction to anyone exercising a reasonable standard of care. Consequently, it is considered that the proposed advertisement would not unduly distract highways users and give rise to safety issues.”

“Regarding amenity, whilst it is accepted that the site is within the Burnham-On-Sea conservation area it is not thought that the proposal would be detrimental; in either an immediate or wider sense. nor is it attached or adjacent to a listed building. The character and setting of the immediate area is mixed and the proposed display would be seen entirely within this context.”

Paul Hale, Manager at the Ritz Social Club, told “We were approached by an advertising firm about this proposal and see it as a great opportunity to tidy up that end of the building, which some feel is looking quite tired. The proposed 15-year contract with the firm would also help to generate a significant income for the club.”

A final decision on the plans rests with Sedgemoor District Council.


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