Adblock Lambeth vs digital billboards on Wandsworth Road

The digital billboard applications are coming thick and fast in Lambeth, with the billboard company Clear Channel proposing to replace an existing paper billboard on Wandsworth Road with a 48-sheet digital billboard.

With the new Nine Elms tube station opening close by, there’s no doubt that the billboard companies will be looking for every opportunity to increase their presence in the local area.

You can help us oppose this and stop the area from being overrun with digital boards like nearby Vauxhall by adding a comment here on the Lambeth planning portal. You just need to click ‘make comment’ on the righthand side of the page and then you can enter your details. Or you can email the council quoting the application number: 21/03905/ADV

Please also sign our petition and share the link with anyone who might be supportive.

Read on for about why we think this billboard should be rejected…

Same old story

As usual, the billboard company make bogus claims about digital advertising being “more efficient and sustainable” but ultimately their motivation for changing the billboard is increased profits, so for them “more efficient” equates to more effective and more money.

Clear Channel have also failed to consult with the local community before submitting their proposals.

An eyesore – and Clear Channel agree!

In their application, the billboard company own up to the fact that outdoor advertising damages the appearance of public spaces. They claim that as the proposed new billboard will be slightly smaller and slimmer than the existing board that this will be “improving the appearance of the site”. The clear implication of this is that removing it altogether would improve it even more!

Damage to amenity, or how the area looks, proved to be the route to victory in our successful Brixton Road billboard opposition earlier this year, so this could work well again.

Distracting road users safely?

Clear Channel acknowledge that advertising is designed to attract attention but claim that this is not a problem as it is a “commercial area” and that the road users they are seeking to distract travelling south on the A306 will not put themselves or anyone else at risk due to the 30mph speed limit.

While it is true that there are some shops close by, it isn’t clear why the presence of a launderette or chip shop would make the distraction of billboard safer. If it is dangerous (and illegal) for a driver to look at a mobile phone while on the road, then why isn’t it dangerous for a driver to look at a brightly lit advert instead of the road ahead?

Clear Channel want a digital billboard in place because they know it is more effective at grabbing attention, which allows them to charge their clients more. The billboard can change every five second showing up to 12 ads per minute. Are we really being asked to ignore all other distractions except billboards so the advertising industry can increase profits at our risk?

Green credentials?

The application doesn’t state the predicted energy usage, but let’s assume it will be similar to a recent Leeds proposal, which Adblock Leeds calculated to be the equivalent of 14-18 median UK households!

Clear Channel claim that their new lighting system will use less energy than the existing billboard. It may be true that the individual bulbs being used are more energy efficient, but unlike the existing billboard which is backlit by a small number of bulbs, there will be thousands of LEDs on a 48 sheet digital billboard; all of which will need to be powered throughout the hours it will be active (05:00 – 23:00), not just during the hours of darkness.  

Lambeth council like to promote their green credentials as the first London council to declare a climate emergency. They aim to be carbon neutral by 2030, so let’s tell them that energy guzzling billboards won’t help them to get there. Carbon neutrality calculations often discount factors that can be written off as someone else’s expense such as the production of components or remote control and monitoring costs of a digital billboard. We won’t let them get away with it!

More ideas

You can read some more ideas for objecting to billboards can be found in our previous blog posts on the Brixton Road opposition and the Vauxhall opposition.

Thank you for reading to the end and for any help you can give us in fighting back against this proposal and all outdoor corporate advertising in Lambeth.

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