Chameleon changes appearance following threat of enforcement

A Louth shop owner has said she is ‘really upset’ after being forced to remove her bright new signs and garlands after a complaint to the council.

The front of the ‘Chameleon’ women’s clothing shop in Louth last week

As reported in January, Kerry Ashby - who owns Chameleon in Mercer Row - had put up the ‘bright and cheerful’ new signs on her shop front in September, but received an enforcement letter from East Lindsey District Council in January after the complaint was made by an anonymous person, who Kerry has described as ‘narrow minded and miserable’.

At the time, ELDC said the changes would have required planning permission, as it is a listed building in the Conservation Area. Kerry said she did not known that formal planning permission was needed.

Kerry said at the time: “I will be honest and admit I didn’t apply for planning permission, because I didn’t know that it was needed.

The ‘bright and cheerful’ design, which has now been removed.

“I have had lots of positive comments as it’s bright and cheerful and I wanted to attract visitors to the shop which is at the end of the town which often gets missed. But no, someone who has nothing better to do sticks the boot in.

“It may not be everyone’s choice but you can’t please everyone but it’s bright, clean, and cheerful. So all in all you’ve cost me £600 and a load of hassle.”

Despite a large show of support for Kerry on social media, she decided not to fight the matter and has purchased new signage, similar to the previous design.

This week, Kerry told the Leader: “I have had to change my sign back to boring!

“I’m really upset about it as it looks bland now compared to how vibrant it looked.

“Thank you to the people of Louth who supported me but I had no choice I didn’t have the energy to fight it.”

Kerry said the district council was ‘fair’ and allowed her extra time to carry out the changes, but added: “I just feel that the floral sign was bright, cheerful, and different from the rest. There are a lot of shops that are unkempt and scruffy and need painting and updating, yet they are just left to deteriorate, mostly owned by companies from out of town and not independent traders.

“I don’t feel that Louth is moving along with the times, and the council doesn’t do enough in terms of attracting out of town visitors. The streets are littered and dirty.

“I had a lot of messages from well-wishers telling me to fight the council but it’s a Conservation Area so I couldn’t see the point.”

Following an enquiry from the Leader this week, and ELDC spokesman said: “As the premises is a Listed Building and it is situated in a Conservation Area, there are limitations as to what is acceptable because the fabric of the building needs to be preserved so that the character and any special or architectural features are protected.

“We did provide advice to the owner as to what schemes would be acceptable and offered the option for alternative designs to be submitted directly to us to see in advance so we could advise if they were acceptable or not, before anything more was ordered/purchased.

“The owner submitted a few different schemes and we considered these and advised which were acceptable.

“The favoured design was then purchased and it is now displayed on the shop front. This has resolved the breach of listed building control.

“No formal action was necessary as the owner co-operated with our requests and voluntarily changed the sign.”