Planners order lights out
A VILLAGE shopkeeper could be forced to keep his customers in the dark after planning bosses ordered his outside lights must be switched off and removed. But David Hearn, of D & S Village Stores in Sandridge, has vowed to appeal against the decision on th
A VILLAGE shopkeeper could be forced to keep his customers in the dark after planning bosses ordered his outside lights must be switched off and removed. But David Hearn, of D & S Village Stores in Sandridge, has vowed to appeal against the decision on the grounds that without the lights, his customers' safety could be put at risk Mr Hearn, who has owned the shop since last July, said: "Is it going to take an accident outside my shop for the planning officers to realise that the lights are not there for decorative purposes but for health and safety reasons? "One of the first things I did at the store was to install the lights as I have extended the opening hours and I felt my customers' safety was being compromised without any form of outside lighting." The building in the High Street is Grade II listed and as such needs express consent before any alterations or additions can be made. But while Mr Hearn has subsequently applied to St Albans District Council retrospectively for permission for the four outside lights, the application has since been refused. "Apparently the lights have a detrimental effect on the character and appearance of the building. The only comments I have had have been positive about the improvements I have made to the shop. "The last thing I want to do is take down the lights and leave my elderly customers feeling vulnerable when they visit. Quite often they will be waiting for me to open at 7am and we don't close until 9pm and at those times, without the lights on, the street is in complete darkness," added Mr Hearn. "The last thing I want to do is spoil the beautiful building I am so lucky to have. But do four lights - which were chosen to remain in keeping with the building - really have a detrimental effect in Sandridge? I don't think so and my customers don't either." Mr Hearn now has six months to appeal against the local planning authority's decision. Have you had trouble getting planning permission? Share your experiences with our online readers by taking part in a forum debate at www.herts24.co.uk. Or why not click on the 'Have Your Say' button on the online version of this article for your comments to be automatically sent to the editor.