Rules should be changed says man in Newport house sign row
12:40pm Wednesday 13th February 2013 in News
A NEWPORT man says planning rules should be changed after a planning hearing heard his religious sign was classed as an advertisement.
Mahmood Ali spoke to the Argus after he told a hearing that a sign that states the Islamic Creed on his home in Chepstow Road, Newport, was a blessing and not an advert. The businessman appealed to the planning inspector after he was refused advertising consent by Newport council for the green sign.
Officers argued that its size – at two metres wide and 60cm in height – and position on the building in the Kensington Place conservation area make it obtrusive.
Yesterday planning inspector Tim Belcher heard arguments over whether the sign harms the character of the building, known as Fatima Lodge, and the conservation area. Mr Belcher told the hearing Mr Ali was “caught by advertising regulations because of the wide way they are drafted”.
He suggested Mr Ali writes to the Welsh Government to take the issue on board when they review advertising regulations.
Asked by the Argus if he felt the regulations need to change, Mr Ali said: “They need to change for a better future for people to live in peace and harmony.”
Officers said in a statement of case that the sign is an advertisement as it consists of letters and words that announce religious faith.
Under planning regulations advertisements include any sign making an announcement or direction.
Mr Ali’s agent, David Glasson, told the hearing: “This is a very modest and subtle development that certainly maintains the character and appearance of the conservation area.”
Mr Ali, 54, a shop owner who lives in the house with his family, told the hearing the sign was “just to bless the house, that’s the purpose”.
Mr Ali, originally from Pakistan, said such measures were common in Birmingham and Manchester.
“It is not there as an advertisement,” he said, adding the green colour means peace.
Geraint Roberts, of Newport council, told the hearing the principle issue stemmed from the scale of the sign and its prominent position.
He said the colour was a strong contrast to the building.
A decision will be made by the planning inspector at a later date.