NEW signs dismissed as “tacky” have been approved for Oxford’s historic Covered Market.
City councillors on the west area planning committee approved the signs on Wednesday, despite previously describing them as “completely unimaginative”.
At last month’s meeting, the application was deferred so officers could return to explain their design choices, following criticism from committee members.
They said the signs, which were devised by the city council’s conservation department, would not be in keeping with the Victorian city centre market.
But after getting a chance to handle the over-sized “M” from one of the signs, as well as hearing more details of how the font and fixtures were chosen, a majority of councillors approved the application.
The scheme will now see four replacement signs, reading “Market”, installed above the High Street avenue entrances and a banner and large sign, both reading “Covered Market”, put up in Market Street.
Only committee chairman Oscar Van Nooijen remained unimpressed by the plans, taking particular issue with the choice of a typeface called Palatino.
He told the meeting: “We want these signs to be something that will last. This does not look right and will have an unacceptable impact on a listed building which is very important to the city.
“This building deserves a timeless sign, not something we slapped a computer designed sign on, no matter how good the execution.”
He added that it was “completely tacky and not what we want”.
Jon Patterson, proprietor of the Nothing jewellery shop in the Market, spoke at the meeting in favour of the signs, telling councillors they are crucial to increase footfall and boost the market’s trade.
He said: “Bearing in mind the influence of out-of-town shopping centres and chain stores in the city centre, I think we need to address this problem to improve Oxford Covered Market.
“Approval of new signs for the market is vitally important.”
After the meeting, Covered Market Traders’ Association chairman Chris Farren, who owns The Cake Shop, said: “I’m just happy to get new signs, whatever they are.
“The ones we have now were put up 30 years ago and they all have letters falling off.
“It has taken a year to get to this stage and I know the signs are more modern that some of the councillors would have liked, but that is all in the eye of the beholder.”
The listed building planning application will now need to be approved by the Secretary of State because the council is the applicant.