Ad firm plans to put 8ft tall billboard hubs on Brighton pavements

Posted On 28 Sep 2022 at 10:21 am


An advertising agency wants to put 8ft high ‘communication hubs’ with digital billboards on pavements around the city centre.

JCDecaux, the UK’s biggest outdoor advertising company, has applied for permission to erect eight units outside shops and hotels.

Its application says it is part of a national programme to “update and replace the older style of telephone kiosk”. The units would also include defibrillators.

None of the sites it has specified – all of which are in city centre areas with high footfall – currently have any phone boxes on them.

Spacewords Brighton

The hubs would allow people to make free calls and offer free wifi. Similar hubs have been opposed because they are often used by drug dealers, and allow companies to track phone movements, raising privacy concerns.

The application, written by the company’s director of planning Martin Stephens, says: “JCDecaux is best known as an outdoor advertising company that specializes in visual forms of communication.

“Through the acquisition of a telecommunication Company called Infocus in 2018 our interests have extended into other forms of communication.

“By combining these two elements the Company’s aim is to seamlessly combine a range of communication formats that deliver high-quality, reliable and innovative communication options.

“The development of the Hub Unit is the means through which this aspiration is being realized, by creating a product that redefines the perception and role of the traditional public call box.

“It is recognized that all development needs to be carefully managed to avoid creating a plethora of discordant and unsympathetic furniture that detract from, rather than enhance, the look and quality of the street.

“The company’s guiding principle is to ensure our furniture enhances place and assists in improving the public realm through design, innovation and functionality.

“The scale of the advertising face is equivalent to those found on bus shelters and other street furniture within urban areas and across the city.

“The screen is not solely used to display commercial messages but includes a dedicated share of time for local community messaging via the council communication channel or, as with other cities, used as a platform to promote local safety campaigns.”

In the last couple of years, BT has replaced about two dozen city centre payphones with its own communication hubs.

If approved, the hubs would be outside these locations:

IBIS Hotel 88-92 Queens Rd BN1 3XE

Hanover House 112-113 Queens Rd, BN1 3XG

Sainsburys 134 North St, BN1 1RG

Jury’s Inn Kings Rd, BN1 2GS

Metro Bank 82 North St, BN1 1ZA

COSTA 193 Western Rd, BN1 2BA

56 Western Rd, BN1 2HA

Waitrose 130-134 Western Rd, BN1 2LA

  1. Rostrum Reply

    Just as we get wider pavement they get filled with junk obstacles trying to sell us crud.

    • Jamie Cast Reply

      None of the sites specified you say?
      And then you list the 8 proposed sites at the bottom of the article!
      Poor journalism!!

  2. Billy Short Reply

    Hang on a minute, here. So these are new ‘hubs’ taking up pavement space with the sweetener that we also get a defibrillator.
    We also then get endless advertising and community propaganda from the council.

    This bit seems a particularly worrying to anyone who thinks the nanny state has gone too far:
    “The screen is not solely used to display commercial messages but includes a dedicated share of time for local community messaging via the council communication channel or, as with other cities, used as a platform to promote local safety campaigns.”

    Like Big Brother hub then.

    Obviously the advertising company recoups its investment over time with the ad campaigns it runs, but who get’s the financial benefit from the loss of pavement space? Is this new space rented off our council when they keep telling us they are widening pavements to help pedestrians?

    Yet more fake green ideas? There is certainly no benefit to the local environment here.

    • Some Guy Reply

      It’s a new style of phone box, that’s all. The advertising space is electronic instead of printed, the phone technology is a bit newer, and a defibrillator will be stored in them. That’s all that’s really changed.
      Frankly, I don’t think it’ll make any difference at all. The old style of phonebox got vandalised into oblivion the moment night fell, and this one doesn’t look any more robust. A month after deployment nobody will know the difference.

    • SJ Reply

      Well said. Another opportunity for the government “nudge unit” to change our behaviour.

  3. Bear Road resident Reply

    A month? I’d give a matter of days before they’re vandalised/covered with tags and the defibrillators stolen – after all this is NEVER NORMAL BRIGHTON…

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