Local history: St Werburghs Billboard Campaign

This piece of local history was taken from the St Werburghs website

I think that I shall never see
a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I’ll never see a tree at all.
Ogden Nash
US humorist & poet (1902 – 1971)

billboards_campaignBILLBOARDS Campaign now
The Billboards out of St Werburghs campaign has been going since 2004 when there were 13 huge advertising hoardings right through the centre of our area. Some were illegal, they all looked an eyesore and we decided we didn’t want them here.

With the help of Bristol City Council planning enforcement and local councillor Jon Rogers we have managed to get rid of 5 of them – the ones by Ivy Church and the ones by Glenfrome Road railway arch. Now we are targetting the group of boards, mainly owned by giant advertising firm J C Decaux which blight the centre of St Werburghs. They attract dumping and flyposting and don’t belong here. We want to see more planting like the Palm Project and to look after our area and feel pride in it. Imagine how it would look without the boards – look how much better the area around Ivy Church already is. Help us to make that final push to reclaim our neighbourhood from these eyesores.

There is a core group organising a legal campaign for their removal, supported by a large number of supporters prepared to write/email and turn up for one-off events. Around 1000 local people signed two petitions to have the boards removed. You are very welcome to join us.

St Werburghs before the billboards were removed
St Werburghs before the three billboards were successfully removed.

The campaign to get rid of the advertising hoardings in St Werburghs has been going for over 2 years – Over 800 people signed a petition which was presented at a full council meeting, we held a public meeting. The turn out was excellent, with council planners, Councillors, members of Ivy Church, local business and concerned residents all contributing.

What has emerged is that one of the hoardings is unlawful having been refused planning permission over 12 years ago. The council have the ability to remove this one fairly quickly. Most of the other boards have planning permission that dates back to the 1970s and 80s. This means that discontinuance notices have to be served on these hoardings, and the council must prove that their presence is damaging to the area. The case for removing the boards around the Mina rd roundabout is based on detriment to visual amenity, and is strengthened by the fact that so much money and effort has gone into improving the area through the renewal scheme. Another factor working in our favour is that the area around Ivy Church has recently been designated part of the Montpelier Conservation Area making the presence of hoardings here inappropriate.

Whilst the planners have agreed that we have a strong case, lack of resources within the enforcement team means that so far they have not taken it any further but we need to continue to put pressure on the council to move things forward. The process may be a lengthy one, but we feel confident that we have a strong case and with the support of residents, local business and the planners we will see the billboards removed.


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