WIGHTLINK has been granted permission to keep a controversial illuminated sign at the Lymington ferry terminal despite neighbours claiming it was bright enough to cause them mental health problems.
A New Forest District Council planning officer has approved a retrospective application for the 2.2-metre by 2.9-metre sign which was erected in August last year.
It was given the go-ahead after Wightlink agreed to make changes, including altering the background to black and not using it for advertising.
It can also only be illuminated from 7am to 9pm and is restricted to posting ferry sailing times and travel updates.
In a report, a planning officer said NFDC believed the sign was now “considered to be acceptable and neighbour concerns need to be balanced with the needs for business”.
Residents living in Undershore Road opposite the terminal say they are furious approval was given without it going before the full planning committee comprising district councillors.
They had branded it an “obscene nuisance” with the New Forest National Park Authority also objecting to it on the grounds of light pollution.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told the A&T: “I am frankly flabbergasted that a planning officer seems to be able to unilaterally decide on this matter without reference to the full planning committee.
“It should also be remembered that Wightlink erected the sign without planning permission in the first place and NFDC didn’t even attempt to enforce their own rules in asking them to at least switch it off until permission has been granted.”
The homeowner, who said the light “makes my life hell”, added: “It shines brightly into my lounge even with the curtains open.”
Complaints about the sign from other residents included that its “flickering” display was “causing distress and mental anxiety”.
Wightlink previously told the A&T the new LED sign was to improve communication with customers. It said following discussions with a local resident, the screen’s brightness had been reduced to a minimum and it is switched off between the last and first sailings of the day.