Brighton’s Community Base says a decision to refuse advertising on one of its walls “flies in the face of common sense”
The building, which leases space to 27 community groups and charities, will miss out on the chance of vital funding after Brighton and Hove City Council’s planning committee again turned its application for a 9m by 9m sign down.
A similar application was turned down by the committee in February after the majority-Tory committee discussed the Green Party advert which had appeared there during the Labour conference. Community Base has since banned political adverts from appearing there.
Colin Chalmers, Community Base director, said: “This majority decision flies in the face of common sense, fairness and the wishes of local people.
“We and our neighbours are simply baffled that a community centre trying to keep costs down for the charities and community groups it provides a home to by selling ethical advertising is prevented from doing despite having the full support of its neighbours and local community.
“While Brighton and Hove City Council is refusing our charity permission to display one advert on a building specifically excluded from nearby conservation areas, it gives itself permission to make income from a string of adverts on lamp posts across Queens Road from Community Base inside West Hill conservation area. I just don’t think that’s fair or right and I’m amazed it’s allowed to happen.
“We will continue to negotiate with council planning officers and our partners in the advertising industry in the hope of finding a scheme acceptable to the planning committee that will allow us to make vital income from advertising on our building.”
But Councillor Lynda Hyde, chairman of the planning committee, said it is important the council adopts a consistent approach to applications.
She said: “We take the relevant planning issues into consideration for every application, whether it is Community Base, a private business or the council itself.
“We cannot take into account non-planning considerations, however sympathetic we may be to the aims of the applicant. The planning policies are there to protect the amenity of the city including its historic, seafront and countryside areas, together with public safety, and must be applied fairly.”
There were no objections from members of the public and 24 letters of support including letters from the Brighthelm Church and Community Centre next door and the Sundial Clinics, Rolyns newsagent and 3 Jolly Butchers pub directly in front of the advert.
Community Base has displayed adverts from 2004 to 2009 without any objections – including a Brighton and Hove Council road safety advert in 2008, which was ironically one of the reasons for refusal on this occasion.
Despite a council officer at the planning committee pointing out that there was no evidence that the advert posed a danger to road safety, two councillors said they were opposing the advert on the grounds of safety “regardless of statistics”.
Advertising consent on this site has been refused six times before. A similar application was approved in 2004 against the recommendation of planning officers but since then planning policies for adverts within or next to conservation areas have been strengthened.
Community Base is facing a second funding blow as Brighton and Hove City Council reviews its business rate status – at current, as a charitable organisation, it doesn’t pay business rates, but this could change.
As part of its controversial Status Quo online job ad this week, council chief executive John Barradell and council leader Mary Mears stressed the need for the authority to work well with the city’s community groups and charities, many of which rent space from Community Base.