The company, which claims to have more UK branches that any other building society or bank, had sought permission to update the exterior of its branch by the historic Market House in Ross-on-Wye – work it appears to have already carried out.
But Herefordshire Council’s senior building conservation officer Conor Ruttledge objected to this, saying the illuminated aluminium “fascia” or panel above the door would “fail to preserve the setting of the Market House” just 20 metres away, and also would “fail to preserve or enhance the amenity of the Ross-on-Wye conservation area”.
No justification had been given by Nationwide for the “incongruity” of the sign’s size or the need to illuminate it, he said, and pointed out that a previous application for an illuminated sign at the branch had also been refused, then an appeal against this dismissed, back in 2019.
Yet Nationwide had not sought pre-application advice on its plan this time, as recommended in national planning guidance “to help prevent situations like this arising”, Mr Ruttledge said.
He pointed out that the Ross-on-Wye conservation area is currently on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register , “and commercial advertising has an important role to play in ensuring amenity within conservation areas is maintained at an appropriate standard”.
He suggested the building society consider instead a “minimal” painted lettering and logo arrangement on a wooden surface, as at its Bath branch.
Planning officer Joshua Evans accepted Mr Ruttledge’s objection as grounds to refuse the planning application.
A similar planned refresh of the building society’s Hereford branch has been approved, while its Leominster branch proposal has yet to be ruled on.
Nationwide was asked to comment.