Bristol Council is running a consultation on the review of the Local Plan. This is the framework in which planning applications are decided in the next 10 – 20 years.
It’s a big document about planning matters in the city. You can strengthen the fight against corporate advertising by writing to the council at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 13th April and copy and pasting this simple ask below:
“Dear Bristol Council,
Please introduce a planning regulation specific to outdoor advertising in the Local Plan – which takes into account the shift in advertising industry planning applications towards unwanted digital screens.
[Include your name and postcode]”
Adblock Bristol’s response
We call on the Council to introduce a planning regulation specific to outdoor advertising in the Local Plan which:
a) takes into account the shift in advertising industry planning applications towards digital advertising and
b) which stengthens the Council’s hand in deciding on such applications.
The revision of Bristol’s Local Plan is an ideal opportunity to introduce a much-needed policy to govern decisions on outdoor advertising in the city
The advertising industry and the technologies they use are changing rapidly and dramatically, and the current processes the council has in place to decide whether or not to allow such advertising into our public spaces are not fit for purpose. The council should review and understand the implications of this shift and develop up-to-date policy and processes to deal with it, while at the same time responding to the concerns of Bristol’s citizens about corporate advertising in public spaces and the opportunity to create a happier, healthier city for everyone.
- Like many people and groups in Bristol, we are increasingly concerned about the commercialisation of our public spaces. Outdoor advertising is there without community consent, people cannot avoid seeing billboards (and they often cannot avoid being influenced by their manipulative messages, even if they want to) and yet they are given little notice or opportunity to comment on or influence decisions around outdoor advertising. Where awareness has been raised, we have seen large numbers of objections by communities to new hoardings. The council’s vision (section 2) is: “A city with a high quality, healthy environment, with attractive open spaces, clean air, vibrant and inclusive sports and cultural facilities, cherished heritage and communities engaged in the development of their city.” To achieve this, there must be a process which far better informs and gathers feedback from the public on potential new or updated advertising sites, particularly in or near residential areas.
- Digital advertising is becoming the dominant form, with more and more lit-up, moving screens appearing on our roads, roundabouts and in pedestrianised shopping areas. There are significant concerns about digital advertising including safety, light pollution, the impact on wildlife and energy consumption. The impacts are not properly understood or adequately addressed by current planning processes, and we have no policy to guide decisions about such advertising.
- People are increasingly concerned about the harvesting of their personal data and how this is used, and yet we have little knowledge of the risks in our everyday lives. Devices such as the new ‘InLink’ wifi units which are currently being proposed for Bristol (the main purpose being to introduce yet more unwanted digital advertising into our public spaces) not only capture users’ data, but are fitted with cameras – the purpose of these is not explicit but clearly has huge and worrying implications for the public. The council should be questioning and understanding the purpose and potential of such technologies, and developing a robust policy. Firstly to determine when, if ever, they are appropriate and desirable. Secondly, to understand the different approach that is needed; for example, when permission would be needed for changes that are made to the technology (these may not be ‘seen’ as easily as changes made to a static billboard, but could be far more significant, for example switching on facial recognition technology).
- There is an unequal distribution of billboards across Bristol, with a high concentration in inner city areas such as Lawrence Hill, which also suffers from high levels of air pollution, but almost none in areas such as Clifton. The council’s vision (section 2) for Bristol “is of a diverse and inclusive city where the success is shared and where inequality and deprivation have been substantially addressed.” A policy should ensure that lower income areas in particular are no longer subjected to the consumer pressures, and street clutter, presented by billboards.
- There is a huge opportunity for Bristol in taking a more robust approach to corporate outdoor advertising: to take control of our public spaces, give communities a say, celebrate our independent, creative spirit, and create a less stressed, happier, healthier city where people can enjoy living, working and leisure – which is what the Local Plan is aiming to create.
Adblock Bristol is a coalition of Bristol residents, planning groups, councillors, artists and civil society organisations.