Sunderland dog groomer defends Frank Styles mural she commissioned for her business after planning row

A dog groomer has defended a mural painted on her business wall after being told she must apply for planning permission or paint it out following a complaint.

In the picture – painted under commission by artist Frank Styles – the pooch, which resembles a Great Dane, is surrounded by soap suds in a wooden tub adjacent to the Hair of the Dog salon on Durham Road in Sunderland.The owner of the business says she commissioned the painting of the dog, named Frankie, to lift people's spirits during the coronavirus pandemic.But one resident has slammed it as an "absolutely humongous eyesore" and the business must now apply for permission from Sunderland Council by September 3 or the mural could be painted over.

The owner, who does not want to be named, said: "We secured the coronavirus grant off the government and thought we would tidy the shop up.

"But we had some money left over, so I thought we would put something on the side to get people to come back to the shop.

A dog walker passes by the controversial mural in Durham Road

"I rang artist Frank Styles, a famous artist from the area, and he agreed to come and knock something up for me.

"As soon as we did it in May there were loads of photos on Facebook, people walking past with pushchairs looking at it showing the kids - everythingseemed fine."

However not everyone was happy with the mural.

A neighbour, who has lived on Durham Road for the past thirteen years, said: "It is an absolutely humongous eyesore, it just brings down the whole area.

The mural at the salon in Durham Road

"It's an advert and we have to look at this every single day, wake up to it every single day.

"We haven't been asked about it and we haven't been able to give the salon our views, it just went up in one afternoon."

Under Town and Country Planning Regulations, any design resembling an advert must be less than 0.75 metres in height, or planning permission isrequired.

The salon owner said: "I spoke to the council and they said because it's of a dog in the bath it's classed as advertising - it wouldn't have been a problem had it have been of something else.

The mural on the salon in Durham Road

"We haven't applied for it yet. I think a neighbour has complained to the council.

"If you don't like dogs, I get that you might not appreciate it."

She added: "The landlord didn't realise it was going to be as big, but the next day he said it was fine for us to do it.

"If I will go around the doors and get my customers to sign a petition if it comes to it."I will put posters up saying #SaveFrankie on the windows."We've had so much positive feedback on social media - families have loved it.

"It was just to brighten the place up.

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Thank you.

"I understand if you live across the road and all you see every time you look out is this big dog - I get that. But not many people are actually looking on to it.

"We did it for the customers coming back when they would line up outside the salon and it was great."

Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, Cabinet Member for Dynamic City at Sunderland City Council said: "The mural painting was brought to the attention of the Council's Development Management team after its completion."On inspection it was determined to be an advertisement, requiring advertisement consent from the council as local planning authority."As a matter of practice, the proprietor of the business was invited to apply for consent in July as this was deemed the most appropriate test of its acceptability."