Petworth trader quits over lights row

Jane's Petworth shop
Jane's Petworth shop

A PETWORTH business has been forced to close following a bitter dispute with the council.

Jane Walton opened the Decorative Collective and 1Hundred, in a Grade II-listed Georgian building in East Street last November, but says she has been forced out after a row with planners at Chichester District Council (CDC).

“People don’t realise this is a shop without lit signage,” said Jane, who applied for planning permission for five lit signs across the exterior of her shop.

“The council said I can only have one small wooden sign outside the shop, or a brass plaque. I have already taken down three out of the five signs I had. This is completely against what the government say about promoting businesses.

“If I can’t have a sign that says who we are and what we do, then it’s a waste of time. It’s completely counter-productive. No other shop in the town has been through this.

“I asked if I could put signs outside during the day, but I would need permission to put hooks in the walls. To have signs inside, they must be a metre back from the window.

“They have not met me to discuss the matter. I am past the point of disgust.

“It is because of foolhardy councils like this that high streets will die and small businesses will cease there.”

Jane has now backed out of the planning ‘war’ and says she will close as soon as her lease is up in October – or sooner if she is forced to take down her signs.

A CDC spokesman said: “We understand businesses need to promote themselves, and we want to help and support them.

“However, we also have a duty to protect the environment.

“Last year, following a complaint, we discovered five illuminated signs had been placed on a listed building in Petworth.

“At the time, we informally advised the owner it was unlikely the council would give consent for the signs to be retained. We also provided advice about what may be acceptable as an alternative.

“The owner has since submitted listed building consent and advertisement consent applications to retain two of the signs.

“However, due to the listed status, its location within the conservation area, and, the type of signs the owner wished to retain, consent has been refused.

“We are aware of concerns relating to signage being displayed on a number of other premises in the town and are in the process of investigating them.”