Bosses were left flummoxed after being denied permission to put up 13ft billboards in Birmingham city centre – having been encouraged by the council to pursue the scheme.
Ad firm Signature Outdoor was told its plans for hoardings either side of Birmingham’s landmark Lancaster Circus flyover would ruin views of historic buildings and distract motorists.
But the planning committee’s decision was greeted with disbelief by the company – because it had been offered roadside advertising sites across the city in a deal worth an annual £1.3 million to the authority.
Claire Smith, from the firm, said: “This site was selected by the council as quite suitable for this type of advertising.”
She said the area was a “highly urban built-up environment” and the Circus was surrounded by billboard advertising.
But committee members unanimously condemned the scheme, which they said would spoil the setting of the historic Central Fire Station and Steelhouse Lane conservation area.
And they were told of tensions between the part of the council which marketed the billboard sites and the planning department.
Coun Peter Douglas Osborn (Con, Weoley) said: “I must congratulate the planning department on this.
“I’m sure pressure will have been put upon members to get the financial benefits from this.
“These adverts are obviously in the way of the beautiful Grade II listed fire station.
“They are obtrusive, incongruous and likely to cause considerable loss of attention to motorists.”
Chairman of the council’s conservation panel Coun Barry Henley (Lab, Brandwood) said: “It’s quite unthinkable that these adverts should be put in place.”
He added that the council was trying to have giant adverts overlooking the roundabout removed from the side of the Central Methodist Hall.