Retail giant left red-faced after council throws out signage plans

The Phones 4 U plans for Ely's High Street

The Phones 4 U plans for Ely's High Street - Credit: Archant

It owns 350 stores and promises customers a ‘hassle free’ experience but Phones 4u suffered a setback from East Cambridgeshire planners who refused its sign for an Ely shop... for being too RED.

Giles Hughes, East Cambridgeshire District Council’s head of planning, told the company its sign would be “a strident and incongruous feature” and out of keeping with Ely’s traditional High Street.

It would adversely impact on the city centre, he said.

Conservation officer Lorraine Brown was even more adamant that the sign would not suit the three-storey terraced shop.

“The large expanse of red, whether timber or not, is not appropriate in this location,” she said.

“It will be visually dominant within the street scene and will neither preserve nor enhance the character or appearance of the conservation area.”

Phones 4u wants to move into the premises currently occupied by Lloydspharmacy.

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Planning officer Ed Fosker told Phones 4u: “The council has an adopted shop front design guide that should be used when designing new signage and shop fronts.”

In his formal rejection letter, Mr Hughes told Phones 4u that it had not sought officers’ guidance in advance.

“Consequently there has been no opportunity to amend aspects of it,” he said.

Ms Brown added the phone company’s new neighbours had changed its frontage “from a bright red, inappropriate fascia board to the current traditional shop front and high quality signage.

“Officers have worked hard to raise the standard of signs within Ely city centre.”

Phones 4u has six months to appeal the decision or it can return to the council with a new application.

The East Cambs Access Group was relaxed about the plans.

Not only was it “happy with these signs but they have good colour contrast too”, it told Mr Hughes.