A POPULAR sports retailer in Worcester has been taken to court and ordered to pay more than £1,000 over an illegal sign.
Worcester City Council successfully prosecuted Sportsdirect.com on Thursday (May 26), after the company refused to remove its large illuminated sign which was put up without gaining the appropriate advertising consent in May last year.
Upon entering a guilty plea, Sportsdirect.com apologised for the breach of planning law and magistrates imposed a fine of £1,650 with a victim’s surcharge of £165 and £50 towards the council’s costs.
The sportswear giant had submitted an application for consent in April 2015 for the sign at the front of its shop in St Martins Quarter, but was refused in July on the grounds it was substantially larger than permitted, illuminated and deemed to be detrimental to the Lowesmoor conservation area.
The council tried to resolve the issues with Sportsdirect.com and their planning consultants Indigo Planning on a number of occasions, but in September announced the advertisement needed to be removed.
During the court hearing, the company – which did not attend – requested an adjournment via its barrister, as it has now submitted a planning application for a new sign.
The council strongly resisted and magistrates refused the request on the basis the original sign is still in place and a previous adjournment had already been granted.
The magistrates gave consideration to the early guilty plea, but felt the matter was aggravated by the fact it is a conspicuous sign and is still in place.
Tim O’Gara, legal services manager at Worcester City Council said: “This sign was clearly visible from vantage points within the Historic City conservation and Lowesmoor conservation areas.
“I hope this case demonstrates clearly to others that the city council will not tolerate breaches of advertising and planning consent.”