North Hill café-owner fined over illegal shop signs

New shop signs erected without planning consent

Date issued: 25 June 2019

The owner of Café NYT, on North Hill, Colchester, has been fined almost £3,000 after erecting new shop signs without planning consent.

On 20 June, Chelmsford magistrates ruled that Diego Perrone, of Garland Drive, Colchester, had breached The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 by placing the signs on the exterior of his 42 North Hill café, a listed building in a conservation area.

Despite repeated efforts by Colchester Borough Council over several months to advise Perrone on the planning rules, the signs remained in place.

Magistrates heard that a series of letters and calls to Perrone advising him to remove the signs and seek alternative arrangements were ignored.

Advice, including asking Perrone to contact the council’s historic building officer and sending him the council’s own shop front guide, went unanswered until late-March 2019 when he contacted the council asking for more time to apply for planning consent because he had run out of money.

Even though Perrone was given more time, no planning application materialised, leaving the council with no alternative but to prosecute.

Cllr Mike Lilley, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety, said: “Court action is always a last resort, because we prefer people to engage with us to resolve any problems they have. However, if they repeatedly ignore planning rules and disregard our advice, we are left with no alternative but to resolve matters through the courts.

“I hope this case serves as a salutary lesson about the importance of following planning guidance and seeking permission before undertaking alteration work to a business property.”

Perrone, who failed to attend court, was found guilty in his absence and ordered to pay £2,500 in fines, council costs of £260 and a victim's surcharge of £170, with a 14-day collection order.

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