Council sees red over High St shop owner’s decoration job

HAWICK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 02 / Oct / 2012 : 'Jan Va-Der-Merwe'Kay Kaczmarek' '(Photo by  Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)
HAWICK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 02 / Oct / 2012 : 'Jan Va-Der-Merwe'Kay Kaczmarek' '(Photo by Rob Gray / digitalpic / Freelance / � 2012)

A HIGH Street businessman could be forced to spend £2,000 on painting his shop front – just months after decorating his premises prior to opening for trading.

Jay Van-dor-Merwe, of Galashiels, opened TP at 70 High Street in May but says he has recently been told to repaint the bright red facade or face court action that could cost between £2,000-£5,000 in solicitors’ fees.

He argues that the eye-catching red colour has long been part of his business brand and that he spent £500 only five months ago on improving the appearance of his premises.

“Trading is difficult at the moment – everyone knows that,” he said. “If I have to repaint it, I will have to close for a few days. We’re a busy shop and would likely lose around £1,500 if we shut for a week. Repainting the shop would, altogether, cost me £2,000 at the cheapest.”

The Galashiels-based business-man received a letter from the council’s enforcement officer Paul Duncan saying his shop was too bright and that he had not gained the required planning permission.

Mr Van-dor-Merwe argues that many shops in the town centre have adopted a similarly bright colour to his own, with a nearby local bank and chemist clad in a strong shade of red much the same as the facade of his own shop. “When I moved in before opening in May, I changed the colour to red,” he says. “Three weeks after opening, I had the council taking photos and saying it was too bright. I asked what the problem was, as my shop is the same as Santander and Semi-Chem.

“The front of the shop before was black and peeling, and the rotten window sills had to be replaced. I carried out a lot of work to improve the property, and it cost around £400-£500 to repair and decorate.”

Mr Von-dor-Merwe says that the council has advised in correspondence that planning permission ought to be sought before the colour of a shop front is changed.

However, the businessman, who previously operated Trading Post near the Horse, said there are neighbouring shops whose owners have not been required to submit a planning application when changing colour of the exterior of their premises. Nevertheless, Mr Von-dor-Merwe planned to lodge a retrospective planning application this week.