Southend Signage Sparks Controversy As Local Business Owner Battles Council Over ‘Overscaled’ and ‘Inappropriate’ Illuminated Signs Brightening Seafront

In the scenic town of Southend, Essex, John Remblance finds himself embroiled in a planning war with the local council over the addition of two vibrant signs to his businesses – the ice cream parlor Scoops 37 and the amusement arcade Circus Circus.

The controversy stems from the lights on the signs, deemed ‘inappropriate’ and accused of obstructing views of the historic seafront.

The clash has unfolded as Southend Council rejected both retrospective planning applications, citing them as ‘significantly overscaled’ and constructed from ‘flimsy modern materials.’

Council’s Contradictions: Overscaled Signs and Historic Building Concerns

Ironically, Remblance’s businesses stand adjacent to Electric Avenue and New York, New York, two other amusement arcades on Marine Parade in Southend.

These neighboring establishments feature their own bright and colorful signs, complete with lights.

The council, however, maintains that Remblance’s signs are ‘excessive in scale’ and ‘significantly obscured the views of the historic frontage,’ causing harm to the building’s significance.

The use of ‘busy’ design and ‘flimsy modern materials’ was also deemed ‘inappropriate for a historic building.’ For Scoops 37, the council noted ‘unauthorized changes’ with a ‘detrimental impact on its historic character.’

Planned Appeals and Business Support: Brightening Up the Area

Undeterred, John Remblance has launched a planning appeal over the Circus Circus sign and is anticipated to contest the decision for Scoops 37.

Meanwhile, other businesses in Southend have rallied behind Remblance, commending him for ‘investing in the area’ and ‘brightening it up.’

Martin Richardson, owner of the nearby Happidrome Arcade, dismissed the council’s stance, asserting that the seafront needs vibrancy and improvements.

Richardson emphasized that investing in the seafront would attract more people, criticizing the council’s restrictions as hindering progress.

Support from Business Owners and Criticism of Council’s Approach

Businesses, including Star Amusements, which owns Scoops 37 and Circus Circus, express disappointment over the council’s rejection.

Star Amusements highlighted their intention to provide a family-friendly atmosphere and contribute to the area’s regeneration.

The retrospective application, submitted promptly upon awareness, was rejected, raising concerns about the inconsistency of the council’s decisions.

Star Amusements, known for their significant investments in Southend’s seafront, feels penalized for efforts perceived as beneficial to Pier Hill and the city.

Comparisons with Council-Approved Displays: Inconsistencies in Decision-Making

Interestingly, amidst the dispute, attention has been drawn to a recently erected illuminated digital advertising screen, approved by Southend City Council.

This advertising display, positioned 11 meters above the ground on the Victoria Plaza shopping center, is a council-owned building.

Star Amusements questions the council’s approval of this LED advertising unit, citing its similarity to their signage and its alleged impact on the commercial character of Southend Seafront.

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