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Conservation area anger

jpco-12-2-14 Richard Thompson outside his shop. The council has informed him that he cannot have an illuminated sign in his shop any more because the Consecration Area Committee has complained (Pic by Jon Rigby)

jpco-12-2-14 Richard Thompson outside his shop. The council has informed him that he cannot have an illuminated sign in his shop any more because the Consecration Area Committee has complained (Pic by Jon Rigby)

Improvements to the High Street Conservation Area have not been welcomed by some of its traders.

As part of a scheme to improve and preserve the area, Crawley Borough Council has written to 34 businesses telling them to remove “unsympathetic alterations or signage”.

But some traders are concerned the changes will lead to a loss of footfall and damage their businesses.

Richard Thompson, of R&K Barbers, in Ifield Road, was told the neon sign in his shop window was unsuitable for the area – and that he had no consent for its use.

Mr Thompson said the sign was put up because he knew the historic value of his premises meant he would not be allowed to attach a barber’s pole to the outside.

And he asked why it had taken the council three-and-a-half years to tell him he needed permission for the sign.

Mr Thompson said he recognised the importance of Conservation Areas but called on the council to concentrate on others issues.

He said: “I’m not against Conservation Areas, I’m all for them because obviously there are old, historical buildings here.

“But, at the end of the day, they need to sort their act out and sort out everything else like the roads and the paving before they start picking on small businesses.”

Turan Koksal, owner of Troy’s Kebabs and Ace Taxis, pointed out a section of paving which had been designed to assist the blind in crossing the road safely. He said the paving had been broken for three months.

Paving and roads are the responsibility of the county council.

A borough spokesman said work was ongoing between the councils to “address issues relating to the quality of paving and other surfaces as part of the wider plan for town centre improvement”.

Adding his concerns to those of his neighbour, Mr Koksal said he had been told he would have to turn off his window lights and added: “I have no idea whatsoever why they have done this. I know for a fact business will go down and I don’t know how much longer we can survive.

“I’ve been in Crawley for 23 years and when I arrived lots of people used to come into the High Street. It used to be great for business but not any more. Every change they make brings business down.”

A council spokesman said similar schemes to improve such areas elsewhere in the country had resulted in an increase in customer footfall.

He added: “This initiative has been under consideration for some time and forms part of a wider programme of improvements to the High Street.

“Where the breaches being addressed relate to lighting this concerns illuminated advertising signs, which are not considered appropriate within the context of the Conservation Area.”

 

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