Controversial plans agreed for historic Bear Grill signs
‘Immoral’ plans to change the front of a historic pub have been agreed by councillors.
The 17th century Bear Grill in Greengate Street, Stafford, that sits opposite the ‘Ancient High House’ and on the same road as the town’s oldest church, will soon have a new timber fascia titled ‘The Bear’.
The original plan was set for the current sign to be replaced by colour-changing LED letters with a hanging sign reading ‘Beers, Burgers, Cocktails – for every occasion’, that was met by fierce opposition from councillors.
The revised plans for the Grade II listed building, that is owned by Marston’s, have now been approved by Stafford Borough Council, despite continued unrest amongst the planning committee that saw six councillors vote in favour of the plans and three against.
Ward Councillor Christine Baron, who also opposed the original plans, said: “I’m not happy at all about this. The images have found their way into the public domain and hundreds of people on social media are totally against it. It’s a listed building in a conservation area and the plans are totally unnecessary.
“We’re here to represent the community and I’m totally appalled at this proposal.”
Councillor Jack Kemp said: “This is a historic building and to stick up that frontage is unbelievable. There is no need for this to be changed, everyone knows this building and I think these plans are immoral.”
There were mixed reviews amongst the committee, with Councillor Geoff Rowlands saying: “I see no reason to refuse this proposal as the surrounding roads are covered with appalling signage. I don’t like the plans but I can’t be against it as it’s the same in this area.”
Councillor Andrew Harp said: “The plans are quite acceptable and I see no reason to refuse them.”
The proposal was recommended for approval by the planning officer who took into consideration the character and appearance of the new signs and the historic building, the visual amenity of the plans and any concerns to public safety.
The officer’s assessment says the proposed signs will be a direct replacement of the existing frontage and the proposed colour of the signage is in keeping with the historic building. It is also proposed that the illumination of the sign will be a continuation of the existing lighting and will be appropriate for the ‘character and appearance of the premises and the Stafford Conservation Area’.
The planning officers concluded that the signage design is acceptable in terms of character and appearance and has ‘little negative impact on the Stafford Conservation Area, the important historic setting of the premises and the listed building itself’.
They also found that the plans integrate well with a ‘retail-dominated area’ and has been designed to ‘avoid being over dominant on the streetscene.’ It was also decided that the proposals do not pose any significant risk to public safety.