THE owners of the Royal Pier in Aberystwyth have said that new signs are “paramount for the business to remain sustainable” following a backlash over plans for large LED displays on the front and side of the Grade II listed building.
Town councillors and scores of residents have voiced their opposition to the plans which they say are likely to be out of keeping with the historic character of the iconic landmark built in 1864.
Owners have applied to Ceredigion County Council planners for two LED display advertising boards, one on the front of the pier, which is the oldest in Wales, and one on the side.
Described by Aberystwyth town councillors as “tacky”, owners have defended the need for them in a Heritage Impact Statement submitted as part of an application to gain Listed Building Consent for the project.
In documents sent to planners, owners said: “The need for updating the signage and facade is paramount for the business to remain sustainable.
“The existing signage and facade has deteriorated over time and
reduces the attractiveness of the prime seaside building.
“The intention is to add signage to the pier so as to attract users to this important Aberystwyth attraction.
“As part of the application the design seeks to enhance the character of the building by improving the elevations with minimal disruption to the original structure.
“The integrity of the Pavilion will be retained, and the signage will attract customers to this vitally important tourism attraction.”
They added that “historically there have been several approved applications from improvement to signage on the pier” and that “the signage offer needs to change over time to reflect changes in taste in their requirement.”
Documents say the large, illuminated boards will measure 5.1m by 1m and 5.7m by 1.9m and will be placed 2.6m and 12m above the ground respectively.
If approved, the LED signs will be placed on the front of the building and on the northern side of the pier, facing Marine Terrace and Constitution Hill.
Councillors and environmental groups have voiced concerns about any bright LED lights interfering with Aberystwyth’s famous starlings’ nesting habits and healthy behaviour – and have called for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) to be consulted on the plans.
Cllr Dylan Lewis-Rowlands said the plans should be ‘rejected entirely’ and read out letters from residents at a town council meeting last month who he said were ‘very angry’.
“Modern LED adverts are not in keeping with the heritage of the pier and our historic sea front in general,” he told members.
“They also might set a precedent and encourage further applications for similar adverts in the future – and spoil the aesthetic of our very pretty sea front.”
The signs are one part of ongoing work to modernise and update the Royal Pier.