Advertising big screen plan stalled by red light

Bobby Lappin, left, and Matthew Oliver. INPT15-208.
Bobby Lappin, left, and Matthew Oliver. INPT15-208.

A bid to have Portadown’s first advertising screen erected at the bottom of the town has run into difficulties.

The Planning Office and Historic Environment Division (HED) have turned down a proposal to erect the LED screen close to the traffic lights at the bottom of High Street.

However, the two local businessmen behind the scheme say it makes good economic sense for the town and has the support of 70 businesses.

Last Wednesday, they took the application before local councillors in an attempt to have the decision overturned.

They were supported by Wayne Wright from Office 30 Architects and Councillor Darryn Causby.

The decision was deferred for a site meeting with the final decision to be made at next month’s council meeting.

The application by Digital Hype, run by Robert Lappin and Matthew Oliver, is for an LED screen measuring approximately 3.5 x 2m (11.5 X 6.5ft).

It would advertise the services of local businesses and would replace the existing Sports Therapy NI sign at 24b High Street.

Mr Lappin said, “On average 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles pass through the high street daily. The high street over the past few years has been in decline and High Street Mall, the Meadows and small local businesses are struggling to survive.

“This sad fact deters new businesses from setting up on the high street and state-of-the-art advertising is the answer to bring back vibrancy to our high street before it becomes a ghost town.”

The proposal has been turned down on the grounds that such advertising would be detrimental due to its proximity to two listed buildings, namely The Ulster Bank and Ivan Jameson.

However, Mr Lappin and Mr Oliver have highlighted other advertising signage in the town, including at listed buildings.

Mr Lappin added, “We consider the benefits of a digital screen outweighs the objectionable reasoning from Planning and HED which is narrow-minded and without vision for the town’s general public.”

He pointed out that Ivan Jameson were one of the businesses which had signed the petition of support.

Councillor Causby, who spoke in support of the proposal, said it is promoting local business and that the screen “will not take away” from nearby listed buildings.

Estate agent Owen Matchett is one of the businesses which signed the petition in favour of the screen. He said, “It’s definitely a good idea. It is a high-profile location and Portadown would be one of the few towns outside Belfast to have one.

“The screen would lift local business and I think would encourage others to come into the town and fill some of the units lying empty.”