PLANNING chiefs should set higher standards for signage and shop fronts in the centre of Wrexham, the town’s civic society chairman has said.

Geoff Foy, chairman of Wrexham Area Civic Society, told the Leader that as this year marks 50 years since conservation areas were introduced in the UK – Wrexham’s having been designated in 1974 – the society has been looking at the town centre conservation area to see how its character is maintained.

He said: “We went round and did an appraisal of the character of the conservation area and highlighted where we thought there could be improvements. The council states that appropriate size, design, illumination and the quality of the shop front is essential in maintaining the character of the conservation area.

“We used that as a starting point.

“It is the most sensitive part of the town centre with the most character and the most listed buildings. We’re always offering to work with owners to see how they can improve their signage.

“I think some of the national companies tend to use a corporate sign. They’re usually very highly coloured and brash, but they don’t need to be that bright to get attention.

“If you go to other town and cities where there's strict controls the companies adapt to suit the local circumstances.”

He added: “The council has said the conservation area is sensitive and it is the area with the most character in the town.

“That is where we think effort should be directed when the council handles planning applications – they should set higher standards in the conservation area.”

A town centre conservation area assessment and management plan on Wrexham Counci’s website, adopted in 2009, makes reference to ‘inappropriate shop fronts and signage’.

It states: “The appropriate size, design and illumination of signage as well as the quality and style of shop fronts is essential in maintaining the character and appearance of the conservation area.

“The use of inappropriate materials and designs that bear little relation to the traditional property continues and needs to be addressed in clear guidance and more stringently enforced.”

Wrexham Council was approached for a comment.