Digital billboard proposed facing M32

Update: 30th June 2020
After 45 objections from the public were received, Bristol City Council have rejected this application.

The Notice of Decision states the reasons for refusal were:

  1. Harm to amenity.
    By virtue of increased brightness, prominence, viewing range and resulting increased commercial awareness, the proposed digital advertising display would be harmful to local amenity. This would be in terms of the visual effect upon the immediate area in terms of increased awareness of passers-by and adjacent residents. This includes the cumulative impact in addition to two adjacent digital advertisements within a short stretch of motorway. The advertisement would be harmful to amenity experienced at a prominent gateway location on entry into the city as well as amenity experienced on an adjacent active travel corridor. The advertisement would directly face and result in increased awareness within dwellings opposite the site on Stapleton Road and Robert Street which would be at odds with established conditions locally. These factors would be harmful to amenity of the local area and as a result the proposal fails to accord with the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007, Section 12 of the National Planning Policy Framework, adopted local policy comprising Policy BCS21 of the Bristol Core Strategy and Policies DM25 and DM26 of the Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Local Plan.
  2. Harm to public safety
    In comparison to the existing non-illuminated paper advert, the proposed digital advert would draw excessive attention away from the highway at a location where this would cause undue increased risk of collision. This would result from the position parallel with the highway, beneath railway bridge obscuring long range views and location opposite two further digital adverts. These conditions would represent unacceptable distractions to drivers at a location between two junctions where lane changing is commonplace and full attention required. This would cause significant increase in risk of collision which would unacceptably prejudice public safety. This is contrary to the intentions of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007, Section 9 of the National Planning Policy Framework, adopted local policy comprising Policy BCS10 of the Bristol Core Strategy and Policy DM23 of the Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Local Plan.

Global have the right to appeal this decision. We will update this blog post with further information.


Advertising company Global have submitted another application to replace a current paper billboard with a digital billboard screen. This application is for an installation on the gable end of one of the Council’s own buildings – the Transport and Cleansing Depot, on New Stadium Way, which looks out on to the M32.

To object to this proposed development:
1. Go to planningonline.bristol.gov.uk/search and enter code: 20/01253/A
2. Click ‘Make a Comment’. 
3. Write as much as you’d like about your objections. You say include the following arguments:

  • The cumulative impact of another digital screen overlooking the M32 would be unacceptable. The existing digital screens which were erected in 2019 at the Black Swan, Stapleton Road and Napier Road are completely unsightly and disliked by local residents. The NPPF states that “advertisements should be subject to control only in the interests of amenity and public safety, taking account of cumulative impacts.” In addition, this site is directly opposite Fox Park, where application 19/00856/A was submitted, and then retracted last year. This stretch of motorway acts as a gateway to the city, and Bristol City Council should reject this application to prevent people being bombarded with digital screens as they leave or arrive in the city.
Left: Image from crashmap.co.uk shows Road traffic accidents near proposed location
Right: Locations of the existing and proposed digital billboards visible from the M32
  • This installation would increase the risk of road traffic accidents on a the motorway. Information from crashmap.co.uk indicates that there is a high frequency of accidents on this stretch of road, and a fatal accident occurred very nearby in 2015. The fact that the gable wall in question is perpendicular to the M32 means it is more likely that traffic on the far side of the road would be distracted, with increased risk of accident as drivers are looking over the carriageway.
  • The applicant has the audacity to state that “The industrial street scene is suitable for commercial advertising.” As Bristol residents, we know that it is not only this street that will be affected, and this development will indeed cause harm to amenity.. Adblock Bristol has spoken to more than one resident in Easton whose home view has been interrupted by the light from one of the previously installed motorway digital billboards. Furthermore, ‘industrial’ is not synonymous with ‘insignificant’. The M32 and the other roads which will be affected by this development – even the industrial ones – are places where Bristolians go about their lives, and we should be able to do that without digital screens glaring at us.
Image: The current billboard (on the right) which Global want to replace with a digital screen. On the left is Fox Park, near the Stapleton Road railway station, where an application to install a monster advert screen (19/00856/A) was retracted by JC Decaux in 2019.
  • Allowing this proposed development would conflict with Bristol City Council’s own statements on the environment. The applicant suggests a key reason for this development is efficiency, because digital billboards use less paper. However research by Adblock Bristol has shown that digital billboards can use as much electricity as 10 UK homes. This application does not include information about the specific energy needs of this development, however we can be sure that there will be an electricity cost. This is an unnecessary development, and one that is incompatible with Bristol Council’s climate emergency declaration

    There is also evidence that light pollution – including that caused by digital advertising screens – is a contributing factor to the decline of insect populations. Bristol Council has also declared an ecological emergency, and therefore any development that does not consider or support the health of insect populations should not be permitted.

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