To the relief of more than 40 people who objected to a new digital billboard in Lawrence Hill, it has just been refused planning permission by Bristol City Council in another win for the local community.
“an incongruous, poor quality, visually intrusive addition to the streetscape which will detrimentally impact upon the character and appearance of streetscene and surrounding area.”
London-based “Outdoor Media Infrastructure” company, Wildstone, applied to build a new digital advertising screen facing a busy junction on the corner of Lawrence Hill in February this year.
The screen would be brightly illuminated and capable of showing up to 6 ads per minute. Unsurprisingly, it was blocked over road safety concerns, with the Council’s planning officer commenting that the proposed screen would “worsen road safety risks adjacent to the site and result in unacceptable increase in risk to public safety.” This is in line with an emerging trend in scientific literature suggesting that digital screens effectively impair driver attention, and may increase crash risk. The ability of digital screens to catch our attention is why ad companies apply to construct them, or course – but do they consider the human cost?
The refusal also took into account the screen’s negative impact on ‘visual amenity’, calling the screen “an incongruous, poor quality, visually intrusive addition to the streetscape which will detrimentally impact upon the character and appearance of streetscene and surrounding area.” We couldn’t agree more.
Adblock Bristol helped to raise 45 community objections to the screen. As well as road safety and amenity concerns, residents living near in Lawrence Hill and further afield also cited worries over light pollution, the environmental impact of energy-hungry screens, the promotion of unhealthy products and the concealment of the historic Whitbread sign currently on the building.
This is the second application for a new digital screen in Lawrence Hill since the start of 2021. The other was to install a billboard at a complicated junction on Church Road. Both applications have been refused for similar reasons, spelling victory for the local community that submitted nearly 100 objections in total.
If you want to get involved with Adblock Bristol as we fight incoming billboards, remove the ones that are already here and lobby for policy change to counter outdoor corporate advertising at a national level, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org, and join our mailing list. There are Adblock groups in Lambeth, Leeds, Exeter, Birmingham, Cardiff, Norwich and more – find a group in your area, or get in touch for advice and resources to start your own!
Find all the details about the proposed screen and reasons for its refusal here by searching for the reference number 21/00891/A.