New ad ‘hubs’ refused after pavement clutter objections

Posted On 10 Nov 2022 at 4:52 pm

Plans to put 8ft high ‘communication hubs’ with billboards on pavements around the city centre are being blocked.

JCDecaux, the UK’s biggest outdoor advertising company, wanted to put up the hubs outside shops and hotels in high footfall areas.

The company said it was part of a programme to “update and replace the older style of telephone kiosk”. No telephone kiosks are currently in the locations it had earmarked.

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This week, Brighton and Hove City Council began refusing the plans.

Planning applications for the pavement outside the following locations have been refused:

  • Costa, 193 Western Road
  • Sainsbury’s 134 North Street
  • Metrobank, 82 North Street
  • Ibis Hotel, 88-92 Queen’s Road
  • Hanover House, 112 Queens Road
  • Waitrose, 130-134 Western Road

Two more, outside Betfred, 56 Western Road and Jury’s Inn, King’s Road, are yet to be decided.

In one of the officer’s reports, for the Queens Road site, planning officer Charlie Partridge said: “The proposed communication hub, by reason of its siting and inclusion of a large digital screen to one side and functional appearance on the reverse side featuring telephone, communication hub and defibrillator, would present as in incongrous featureless addition to the street scene, create additional street clutter and cause adverse visual harm to the public realm.”

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He said it would also be contrary to the council’s highway policies: “by reducing the footway width and reducing the unobstructed/clear available footway capacity in an area that is considered very congested.

“The proposal would cause conflict with pavement users constricting the area that can be used to an unacceptable level.”

The report said  two people had objected, alongside the Regency Squares Community.

The council’s waste collection department Cityclean also said similar hubs installed by BT around the city had become magnets for graffiti, stickering and fly posting.

And the council’s transport team said the site – Queens Road – had high footfall, close to a bus stop and so would impact visibility and obstruct passengers.

Hubs such as these and BT’s have been rolled out across the county in recent years. As well as pavement clutter, privacy campaigners have raised concerns that they record data from passers-by’s phones, which is then sold.

BT has said that no identifiable data is collected.

  1. Max Reply

    Good to see that these ugly vertical slabs will not be allowed to get in the way of people on pavements. It was a barefaced attempt to grab part of the public realm and use it to make money for private shareholders. They wouldn’t stick them on the road so why even think they could put them on the pavement. JCDecaux should be ashamed and embarrassed.

  2. Derek Reply

    How do we get the ones installed, removed?

    • Max Reply

      Unfortunately the existing ones are owned by BT and are on the sites of their former phone boxes so it seems there’s no easy way.

      • Chris Reply

        …. and, unless the rules have changed, BT are obliged by Ofcom to keep a certain number of phone boxes so people can access emwergency services. The rules were made before mobile phones and many boxes have been removed as usage declines. They used to be a headache all round; keeping them clean and free from dubious adverts, keeping them intact and working after frequent vandalising and keeping the cash safe before cards were used. Someone had to go round collecting the money, it used to be the postmen years ago.

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