Community centre staff have been given little hope of continuing to use an advertising billboard they describe as a vital revenue source.
Planning officers from Brighton and Hove City Council have told councillors they are “minded to refuse” a renewal planning application from Community Base, in Queens Road, Brighton, to keep using the prominent hoarding on the North Road frontage of the building.
If members of the council’s planning committee vote to accept the recommendation it will be the second time in three months they have rejected similar proposals.
When an earlier version of the plans was turned down in February, Community Base director Colin Chalmers said £18,500 of advertising revenue would be lost and the cost would have to be transferred to the dozens of charities and community groups which use the centre.
He accused the Conservative majority planning committee of making a politically-motivated decision because the billboard had been rented to the Green Party to display a poster last Autumn – which was discussed by the committee.
Before that refusal, officers have recommended turning applications down, but councillors had approved the plans at committee.
The official reason for refusing permission for the renewal, which had been in use since 2004, was that it had a detrimental visual impact on the surrounding North Laine conservation area.
Opposition Labour councillor Juliet McCaffery said that reasoning was questionable after the council’s decision last month to tender prominent spaces around the city to raise extra revenue.
The planning committee will make their decision on the latest application at their meeting at Hove Town Hall, in Norton Road, on Wednesday.
The vote will attract further scrutiny because of the upcoming council by-election in the St Peter’s and North Laine ward on July 8.
The council’s ongoing restructure emphasises the need to work closely with community and voluntary groups such as the ones who rent space at Community Base.
The centre is also facing another financial blow from the council, which is conducting a review into whether it will continue its exemption from paying business rates.
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