Council orders 'gaudy' witch mural on side of pub to be removed

The gable-end image in Pittenweem has been branded 'inaccurate and gaudy in its use of colour and stylization'.

Fife Council orders ‘gaudy’ witch mural on side of Pittenweem pub to be removed LDRS

A large building-side mural with ‘gaudy colours’ in Pittenweem must be removed, Fife Council’s north east planning committee has ruled.

The large street art painting of a witch in front of the moon and night sky along the Mid Shore harbour will be subject to enforcement powers after councillors rejected a planning application from the Larachmhor Tavern for retrospective permission on Wednesday. 

Officers recommended refusal, calling the mural “not only inaccurate but also gaudy in its use of colour and stylization.” 

However, the council objected on other grounds as well. 

The mural covers the gable end wall of a 19th century Category C listed building overlooking the narrow School Wynd. It sits within the Pittenweem conservation area amongst a row of B and C listed properties. 

“It is in a fairly prominent part of the harbour area, which is quite a popular area. The Wynd itself is widely used. Within the context of the narrow wynd, the mural is considered to be overbearing and inappropriate,” planning officers told councillors. 

“The typical palette of colours along the harbour is fairly muted and neutral, and we’d be introducing a broad range of gaudy colours to a fairly neutral environment.” 

Historic Environment Scotland also advised that the application of paint to unpainted historic walls can cause “considerable damage in the long term by preventing the evaporation of moisture from the underlying fabric.”

The council also received 13 public objections regarding the subject matter, design and style of image, colours used, size, and  impact on the visual character of the conservation area.

“We are not supportive. We are seeking relevant enforcement powers to ensure it is removed using best conservation practices. It’s contrary to national and local advice,” planning officers summarised. 

However, councillor David MacDiarmid, SNP for Howe of Fife and Tay Coast, said: “I actually like it. For the witch capital of Scotland, I think it’s kind of apt. I like street art, and I think it can actually be an advantage to a lot of places. If it was done by Banksy, would it still be up for removal do you think?” 

Planning officers maintained that they are very concerned about the mural’s visual impact on the protected area, and said there “are other ways of flagging up the significance of witches rather than using the whole side of a building.” 

Councillor Fiona Corps, Lib-Dem for East Neuk and Landward, said: “Pittenweem is recognised for its picturesque nature. The mural is making a bit of a mockery of the village’s history.” 

The mural was unanimously refused permission by the committee and it will be subject to removal in due course. 

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