Two billboards have been removed in Bedminster following opposition from the local community. Bristol City Council took action against the advertising hoardings after it was revealed that despite being in place for many years, neither had planning permission.
In 2018 the outdoor advertising company Insite Poster Properties applied to replace two billboards on West Street and Winterstoke Road with digital advertising screens. These efforts are part of a drive by outdoor advertisers to install large numbers of digital advertising screens across Bristol and other cities. These are brightly lit screens capable of showing six adverts per minute which has led to major concerns over their impact on local residents, wildlife and the distraction to drivers, as well as the negative effects of their consumerist messages on public health, wellbeing and the environment.
This time, however, the advertisers did not get their way. Objections from local residents, and concerns over the impact on safety and visual amenity, led Bristol City Council to reject both applications.
This process revealed that neither of the existing billboards had ever had planning permission. The council recognised that many of the concerns raised by the local community against the digital screens also applied to the existing billboards: that they were visually intrusive, excessively large, distracting and situated in residential areas. So, the council issued ‘Discontinuance Notices’ to have both of the hoardings removed .
Insite appealed this decision, but then a number of statements were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in support of the council’s decision, including from local Councillor Mark Bradshaw. In April 2020 the appeals were dismissed and the billboards have now been removed.
Nicola Round from local group Adblock BS3 said: “Insite argued that there was no evidence that the existing billboards presented any harm to visual amenity. This is simply wrong. By their own admission the character of the neighbourhood is ‘mixed’ (i.e. some commercial and some residential buildings). But they made no mention of the impact on local residents.
“We’re relieved that these billboards have finally been removed, and that the council stood their ground against these aggressive efforts by advertisers to saturate our neighbourhoods with commercial advertising. Bedminster is home to many well-loved independent local businesses, but support for them is undermined by the large number of billboards in the area. This overload of large-scale corporate advertising contradicts the message to shop local as billboards typically advertise junk food, supermarkets, fast fashion – and cars, cars, cars.
“The area around Parson Street roundabout has one of the highest levels of air pollution in Bristol, and a primary school. There are so many billboards already in this area, which just seems so wrong in this highly polluted neighbourhood busy with schoolchildren, who we know are more vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution.
“It’s great that people will now be subjected to fewer unwanted ads, but there are still too many there.”