Help fight a new digital advertising ‘BT Street Hub’ unit in Broadmead, Bristol

BT have applied to put up a ‘BT Street Hub’ in Merchant Street, Broadmead. The unit is three metres high and flanked by two digital advertising screens, but it doesn’t stop there – the controversial hubs also have associated WiFi connectivity, call facility, data capture technology and surveillance capacity. 

If this application goes through, the unit could be the first of many. BT says they plan to roll out several hundred in cities across the UK this year, in partnership with advertising giant Global. 

BT says the Street Hub units, previously known as InLink, will “help future proof the high street making them smarter, safer, and more sustainable”. But by the company’s own admission, the units have been the subject of antisocial behaviour and raise serious concerns regarding their surveillance tech and use of the personal data of passers-by.

Community objection works: In 2018, BT proposed to install 25 InLink units across Bristol. Following dozens of public comments expressing alarm at the plans, planning officers at Bristol City Council rejected all 25 applications. 

Read a Bristol Cable article about the threats posed by Street Hub units here: Bristol’s new phoneboxes could end up spying on you

HOW TO OBJECT:

Log your objection here on the Planning Portal at Bristol City Council: www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/look-at-and-track-planning-applications

Reference number: 21/04946/F

UPDATE 18/10/2021 – The previous reference number 21/04947/A was only for the LCD screens on the BT Hub structure whereas reference number 21/04946/F is for the whole structure and therefore it can be objected to on wider planning grounds such as obstruction of pavements for disabled access; loss of light or overshadowing; design, appearance and materials; and nature conservation. If you have already made an objection under reference 21/04947/A please consider copying this to the other reference number as well.

Click “Make a Comment” and write some words about why you object.

Here’s some points to include in your objection:

  • The Council’s Planning Department can refuse the screen on the grounds of ‘amenity’, so be sure to mention factors such as how the screen would cause an amenity loss and a detriment to the quality of the area. This could include the addition of a freestanding unit causing clutter in a busy pedestrianised area, the contribution to an area already saturated with advertising infrastructure, the addition of a visually unattractive unit causing detriment to the visual quality of the street.
  • Your personal story: why does this affect you? Why are you taking the time to object?
  • Although it is not currently considered ‘material grounds’ for planning refusal, each BT Hub unit has two large digital screens. These use a significant amount of energy and contribute to light pollution, which is not compatible with the Council’s declaration of Climate and Ecological emergencies.
  • The imposition of advertising into public space has a significant impact on public wellbeing.
  • BT have applied for consent for 10 years (Oct 2021- Oct 2031) but usually consent is granted for 5 years after which time the structure could be removed. You could ask the council to review this and ensure it would be a maximum of 5 years in line with other advertising consents.

Proposed site for the Street Hub unit at Merchant Street opposite TSB

Published by