St Albans city centre café allowed to keep illuminated signs

Aspava Turkish Cuisine in St Albans has been allowed to keep its illuminated signs. Picture: Anne Su

Aspava Turkish Cuisine in St Albans has been allowed to keep its illuminated signs. Picture: Anne Suslak - Credit: Archant

A city centre café has been granted permission to keep its illuminated signs against the initial advice of planners.

Aspava Turkish Cuisine, in front of the Alban Arena, has three signs where the six letters of its name are internally illuminated, and with an additional low-intensity white LED strip along the existing fascia.

District planning officers advised that the sign should be refused, claiming the illumination of the 'Aspava' lettering, which is already in place, would have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the city's conservation area.

They also believe the sign would detract from nearby listed buildings such as The Waterend Barn and The Grange, and that the use of flexiglass and composite panel, while not detrimental in itself, would exacerbate the impact of the internal illumination.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, planning agent Dean Goodman stressed that it was just the letters of the restaurant's name that were illuminated, and not the whole sign, and claimed there was local precedent as nearby Barclays bank has similar signage.

He said the restaurant's "discreet and subtle" signage did not have the same impact as the "significantly worse" plasma screens in the windows of the Alban Arena.

Mr Goodman also pointed to four restaurants that had failed at the same premises, an increase in anti-social behaviour in front of the Alban Arena, and the need to encourage the survival of the new restaurant.

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He said: "The leasee is trying hard to make the restaurant pay and promote an attractive facility on this key part of St Albans where businesses regularly fail. Please help him survive."

During the debate Cllr Janet Churchard said that the signs did not seem to be out of character with their surroundings, and Cllr Helen Campbell said she did not find the signs wholly unattractive or unappealing.

The committee eventually agreed that the application would not have an adverse effect on the surrounding conservation area, and permitted the restaurant to keep its signs.

Councillors were also informed that the council owns the freehold of the site, but that this did not have an impact on the assessment of the planning application.