Blackpool church plan refused to protect area from 'visual clutter'
A bid to install a digital LED sign on the front of a Blackpool church has been thrown out by town hall planners for the second time.
The application, this time for a slightly smaller sign, at Layton Methodist Church was refused by Blackpool Council officers who feared it could lead to ‘visual clutter’.
But the applicant warned with many churches closing, it was vital to advertise events and services using modern technology.
The decision comes as the council is on the verge of consulting with residents on proposals to create a conservation area in Layton to protect its heritage.
Planners ruled the sign would damage the ecclesiastical character of the building on Westcliffe Drive.
But church trustees warned in their application the digital signage was crucial to advertise the growing number of community activities held there.
They said 15 churches in Blackpool had either closed, were boarded up awaiting demolition or had been converted to non-religious uses in recent years.
A letter to the council said: “We do not intend to stand idly by and let Layton Methodist close and be converted to a carpet showroom or a restaurant.
“Where would the heritage of the building be with an illuminated menu on the front elevation?”
Documents add the church “is committed to developing its role further in the community and to opening its doors to a wider audience as possible”.
Trustees said while the building was primarily a place of worship it needed to adapt to provide more community based services to the public.
They added: “This diversification has brought about their need to bring to the public’s attention their building and the diverse range of services that it can offer for the good of the public.”.
But town hall planners said while LED signs were allowed in the resort's main entertainment areas, their use needed to be controlled in district areas as “cumulatively this would result in overbearing visual clutter”.
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