More than 3,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a Richmond mural to be allowed to stay.
Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee will meet tomorrow solely to consider whether the mural, featuring a sheepdog looking over a dry stone wall alongside six sheep in a meadow and a signpost to several local landmarks, damages the appearance of the historic building at the Frenchgate corner of Richmond’s Market Place.
The meeting comes more than two years after Jackie Stubbs, the former landlady of Yorkshire’s first community-owned pub, the George and Dragon in Hudswell, was commissioned to create the artwork on the Georgian York House Antiques premises by its owner Christine Swift to help advertise the business.
In retrospective planning application papers lodged with the authority, agents for the antiques business state the impact of the 5m by 1.5m mural on the listed property is “minimal”.
The agents added: “The retail environment is highly competitive and there is
significant pressure on the high street through changing consumer habits and the ease of online shopping.
“We therefore believe it is important that retailers can advertise their space effectively to encourage shoppers whilst still being respectful of the heritage and importance of the property.”
Alongside more than 3,100 people signing an online petition to keep the mural, the Original Richmond Business and Tourism Association said 58 of 63 responses from its members were in favour of retaining the artwork.
An overwhelming majority of responses to the retrospective plan are also in favour of keeping the mural.
One resident wrote the mural was “a fantastic bit of fun countryside art”, that was completely in keeping with the locale as it “catches your eye and makes you smile”.
Another resident wrote: “This artwork makes a gorgeous addition to Richmond and is a great advertisement for not only the lovely shop, but also Richmond itself. Creating a positive atmosphere from the moment locals and tourists alike enter the town square.”
However, Richmond Civic Society has objected to the artwork, saying it should not have been undertaken without planning permission.
A society spokesman said granting consent “at this stage would be to create an alarming precedent for other property owners to produce quasi-public art that could deface the town”.
Calling for the mural wall to be “colour washed in an appropriate product”, the objection added: “Furthermore, the applicant claims that the mural is a commercial advert, but there is no evidence of this: the mural is simply pictorial and makes no reference to the shop.
“As to the subject matter of the mural, we feel that it has some relevance to the Dales villages but virtually no relevance to the town of Richmond, its history or its architecture. Since it is located in a prominent position, at the entrance to the Market Place, this issue of relevance is an important
Recommending the mural be rejected, the council’s planning officers said while there was undeniable public support and affection for the mural, the artwork was harmful to the listed building and the historic character of Richmond.