A CONSULTATION on proposals to protect Mauchline’s heritage – including control of what businesses can put in their windows and interiors – will draw to a close this week.

The work is tied to the town’s Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS), put in place to ‘protect and enhance Mauchline’s culture and heritage assets’.

The consultation centres around  the plan to make it a requirement to apply for planning permission for developments and alterations where applicants would otherwise not require permission.

This would include housing, walls, fences and gates, access roads, signage and advertising.

The Mauchline CARS was launched in October 2019 and involves the restoration of key historic buildings, urgent repairs on private traditional properties, shopfront improvements, and public realm works, among other actions.

The East Ayrshire Council consultation, which closes at 4pm this Friday, July 29, states: “We believe in the importance of protecting these improvements, and to this end are considering the use of further legislative powers in the conservation area.

“Presently, certain classes of developments and alterations can be carried out without the need to apply for planning permission, known as “permitted development”.

“Classes of development may be removed from permitted development, subject to the approval of the Scottish Ministers.

“Similarly, there are several classes of advertisements which can be displayed without the need to apply for advertisement consent.

“The council considers it essential that, in order to protect the character and special qualities of this conservation area and help its enhancement, certain classes of permitted development and deemed advertisement consent are removed.”

Types of advertising which currently require no planning permission but could in the future include road signage, council notices, businesses and free standing advertising hoardings.

One of the most prominent proposals relates to businesses. This would see planners have control over what can be put in shop windows and inside shops themselves.

The council consultation states: “The removal of this class is intended to improve the appearance of retail and other business units through taking tighter control over what can and cannot be displayed in window displays.

“It is considered by the council that advertisements inside of buildings can be as detrimental to the amenity and appearance of the conservation area as some adverts on the external wall of units.

“There are several examples within the area of internal advertisements that significantly detract from the appearance of the area.

“Advertisements displayed from within business premises on windows may have an equivalent impact to advertisements on the exterior of the business premises.”