Pizza Hut enters “town versus gown” dispute with Council

The popular chain's application for a flashy new sign was rejected last month

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pizza Hut has become embroiled in dispute with Oxford City Council, after proposals for a new, neon-lit frontage were rejected.

The UK’s third most popular pizza chain claimed that a new sign was necessary to ensure that its brand image remained “bright and vibrant.”

But the council responded that it was “absolutely crucial” to protect the heritage of Oxford’s historic areas such as the High Street.

Council leader Bob Price said: “Part of Pizza Hut is also part of the Covered Market. It’s a very important part of the city’s heritage – and a sign could make a huge difference.

“The High Street in Oxford in one of the jewels in the crown of Britain’s shopping offering and everybody [retailers] along it knows by and large what is required.

“Pizza Hut were trying to push the boundaries a bit too far.”

A Government planning inspector rejected an appeal in July, agreeing that the proposal “was not up to the highest standards needed for the sensitive location.”

In a statement, Pizza Hut argued that Oxford should not be defined solely by the university.

“The conservation area overview reminds that while Oxford is exceptional in its colleges and general architectural quality, it is also a major regional commercial centre.

“It confirms High Street belongs to town rather than gown and that it is central to a vigorous commercial shopping centre.”

The Texas-based chain also suggested that varied advertisements are a positive both for the street and for businesses.

“[The sign] would have no impact at all on the High Street; it would provide some colour and interest to the market entrance alleyway, which is otherwise rather dull and somewhat forbidding.

“We’re disappointed that the application has been denied.”

A fresh proposal has now been submitted with the offending lighting removed.