INSTALLING a large digital sign on the side of one of the country's oldest picture palaces would "de-value its significance as a heritage asset."

Bradford Council has this week refused a planning application to replace a huge billboard fixed on the side of the former Dudley Hill Picture Palace with a digital advertising sign.

The Grade II listed Tong Street building was first opened in 1912 with the silent film "How's Your Father?"

It could seat up to 600 people, and is one of the earliest surviving surviving purpose built cinema buildings in the country.

It closed as a cinema in 1967, with the last screening being Thunderbirds Are Go.

After that the building became a bingo hall, and is now used as a carpet shop.

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The building, designed by Howorth and Howorth of Cleckheaton, was listed in 2016.

Clear Channel had submitted the application as part of its push to replace a number of its signs with LED lit digital signs.

But Bradford Council's conservation officer raised concerns about the company's plans, saying the digital signage would harm the striking building's significance.

The application said the existing 12 metre wide sign had been in place for over a decade, and the upgrade was "part of a project to bring Clear Channel’s stock of poster and paste billboards into the 21st century."

The digital sign would be 6 metres wide.

Jon Ackroyd, Conservation Officer, said the building: "Has significance as one of the earliest surviving purpose-built picture palaces as well as for its good standard of survival both inside and out."

He adds: "Although the exterior of the building is marred by a proliferation of advertising, the character and architectural exuberance of the building is fully evident.

"The existing very large advert hoarding was already in place at the time of listing, but harms the significance of the building.

"The proposed digital display would result in a far more strident impact than that of a fixed postered display. This in its own right would harm the significance of the listed building, and in combination with the other detrimental advertising, would cause appreciable harm.

"The effect clutters the building and de-values its significance as a heritage asset.

"There is no public benefit to balance the harm which would result from the digital display."

Refusing the proposals, planning officers refer to national planning policy that says: "a large poster-hoarding would be refused where it would dominate a group of listed buildings."

They add: "The advertisement would be of a significant size and in a prominent location on a busy transport route.

"It is considered that this would represent a dominant and discordant feature in the streetscene, emphasised by the illuminated digital display.

"The proposed advertisement would have a negative impact on the character of the Grade II listed building and its setting, and the visual amenity of the wider locality."