A discount retailer has been asked to remove controversial signage from outside its store in Eastbourne.

On Monday (January 29), Eastbourne Borough Council’s planning committee considered an application from home discount chain B&M, through which the retailer had been seeking retrospective permission to display a number of advertising signs outside its store in the Crumbles Retail Park.

The application had proven unpopular with some Sovereign Harbour residents, who had objected to the proposals in significant numbers. Their objections mainly focused on the appearance of several illuminated signs at the rear and side of the building.

B&M had not been seeking permission to keep these illuminated signs, having dropped this part of its request during the application process. The retailer did want to retain a non-illuminated sign at the rear of the building, however, together with an uncontroversial illuminated sign at the front of the store.

While officers felt this would have been an acceptable situation, residents argued the rear signage should be removed entirely.

Speaking at the meeting, local resident Martin Bender said: “Because the applicant has agreed some reduction in advertising display, this should not presume that what is left is allowed.

“In terms of the large fascia sign at the rear, this must come down too. Meeting halfway should not be an option, the sign should never have gone up in the first place.

“When walking from the North Harbour to and around the waterfront [the sign’s] presence is, we believe, out of character with what was originally intended by the creators of Sovereign Harbour.”

Residents’ concerns were shared by several committee members, including Cllr Jane Lamb (Con), who said: “I’m concerned because the large sign at the top at the back is purely advertising; it doesn’t direct customers and it is a large and very vibrant sign and it stands out because it is also the only sign on the back of that building.”

She added: “The problem is [these remaining signs] are illuminated, not internally but by lighting around them, so that large sign is quite bright and I think it does spoil the visual amenity of residents who can see it.”

After discussion, the committee reached the view that the rear sign should be removed, but that the signs were otherwise acceptable. As a result, they agreed to delegate the application to officers, directing them to negotiate the removal of the signs.

This means the remaining parts of the application will be approved if B&M agrees to remove the rear sign. Otherwise, the application will be refused.

The committee also asked officers to add a new condition, which would require B&M to switch off its remaining illuminated sign (at the front, facing the Crumbles car park) at certain times of day.