An award-winning pub has been embroiled in a row with locals over a new illuminated sign. Those living close to the Tiger Inn in Stowting, Kent, have complained the lit-up sign is pushing back their bedtimes and interrupting their stargazing.
The gastropub – which won Kent in the Pub and Bar Awards 2022 – has now been forced to fit a dimmer to the sign.
Shirley Smith, who has lived close to the pub for 35 years, said: “This pub sign is intrusive, excessive and unwanted light pollution.
“It illuminates and intrudes onto neighbouring properties and in particular lights up the full frontage of my cottage and into all six front windows as well as other areas of my home and garden.
“Its position towering over my cottage and its excessive illumination – this excessive and poorly timed artificial lighting exposure all around me in the evenings pushes my sleep cycle backward towards a later bedtime and is inducing other concerning health issues.”
Resident Jane Waterman said: “There are several things that are of concern to me – the pub sign which I can see at night when I am stargazing.
“The light from the sign is an intrusion to me and I cannot understand why it has to be this height.
“I believe in progress and change but not when someone thinks they have the right to do whatever they want with no thought for anyone else.
“Apparently the lady next door who has lived there for many, many years is thinking of selling up as she cannot cope any more.”
Another local, M.E. McColvin, said: “The light is far too bright and stays on until 00.30. The sign is a blot on the landscape.”
Samantha and Quentin Hunt – who live three doors down from the pub – added: “The over-illuminated sign can clearly be seen lighting up the otherwise dark sky from our garden.
“Clearly the sign is illuminated to a level which is completely unacceptable for a small countryside hamlet.”
The pub sought retrospective planning permission in November 2021 for works that took place in May last year – six months before – which included a new seating area surrounded by fencing and the sign.
The local area is in Zone E1, which is denoted as naturally and intrinsically dark.
Stowting Parish Council objected to the application, calling it “grossly inappropriate”.
It said: “The site is located in the Area of Natural Beauty which is considered to be intrinsically dark.
“The very real result of this is that the sign, erected many months ago, is causing serious problems for the immediate residents and their ability to enjoy the amenity of their properties.
“It is lighting up living rooms and bedrooms, with the latter interfering with some residents’ sleeping patterns on a daily basis, all of which is totally unacceptable and must be resolved.”
The pub was taken over in June 2021 by Will and Nadine Sheldon following a six-figure refurbishment.
They did not apply for planning permission for the sign being moved at the time, saying they were not aware they had to.
Mr Sheldon, the managing director of Contemporary Pubs, said: “We applied for retrospective planning permission in November 2021, for the sign to remain in its current location.
“We believe it is important for the business that the sign be positioned at the entrance to the pub.
“The Tiger Inn’s location is very rural and therefore it is important for the business to be seen, as without an illuminated sign, you would just drive on past.
“The sign light is on a timer and is turned off in advance of the approved licensing hours.
“We will be fitting a dimmer to the sign light later this week, which will bring the candela down to 100 cd/m2 which is the recommended level. Let’s hope it saves us on our electricity bill as well.”