TWO billboards that have stood on one of the main gateways to Stratford-upon-Avon for 40 years are to be pulled down.
The company that owns them has been told they must be gone by the middle of March after losing a legal battle.
Stratford District Council issued two discontinuance notices to London-based Primesight in October 2014, one for each board on either side of the road.
The company’s appeal was subsequently turned down by a planning inspector, who described the board on the McDonald’s side of the road as ‘clutter’.
Wildmoor Spa and Carpetwise, which currently have adverts on them on Birmingham Road, say they have attracted vital business from the billboards that have been in place since 1976.
Some of the artwork on them is also produced by a creative agency based near Stratford. Its boss has also expressed disappointment.
The land they sit on is owned by the Canal and River Trust, which also earns an income from them.
But a planning inspector, Paul Dignan, who oversaw the appeal by the billboards’ owners, dismissed them as ‘clutter’.
A spokesperson for Primesight told the Herald: “We enjoy working with local authorities to respect the environment around our advertising sites and are disappointed with Stratford District Council’s decision to remove these 48-sheet billboards which are very much in-keeping with the commercial character of the area.
“Having been in place since 1976, this decision and the subsequent appeal dismissal has come as a surprise.”
Marc Mewis, marketing director at Wildmoor Spa, said: “The hoardings have added to our membership drive and figures have risen so it has been an asset for us. “It is a shame really because for me personally the signs put income into the local community and into businesses.
“It’s hard to find advertising spots in Stratford and island spots can be astronomical. It is a huge loss but ultimately out of our hands.”
Shane Mapp, a partner at Carpetwise, added: “It has been an invaluable advertising tool to us as we are set back off the main road. We’ve advertised on the billboard for donkey’s years and been in business for 30, so this will be a difficult one to replace. We’re disappointed and we will be looking for alternatives.”
Craig Reeves, director of Pickled Pepper Productions, which is based in Sambourne near Alcester, and which produces the artwork for the Wildmoor Spa billboard, said the decision was bad news for local businesses.
“A billboard may not be viewed as an iconic monument of beauty, but it does serve the community, with the site in question supporting local businesses with scope for upgrade or renewal. If this prohibition of marketing within the town persists, I feel concerned for the businesses that rely on this form of communication.”