Object to more back-to-back digital advertising for Bristol!

As predicted, a recent application for a “BT Street Hub” unit in October has been chased up by two more applications for street hubs, one in Lewin’s Mead and one on Baldwin Street.

Why are we objecting to the BT Street Hubs?

A BT Street Hub is three metres high and flanked by two brightly-lit digital advertising screens. The controversial hubs also have WiFi connectivity which has been linked with alleged surveillance capability (i.e. the hubs can track you as you move through the city), call facility, data capture technology and surveillance capacity (they can count the number of pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists…). More in the BT Street Hub product info document.

Do we want BT’s “Digital Street Community” – or do we want our communities, with ad-free streets, thriving local businesses and the ability to walk without navigating past massive metal structures shouting at us with giant corporate advertisements?

How can I object?

It takes 5-10 minutes to lodge an objection and if more of us object, the Council is more likely to be able to overthrow the application. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Go to the Planning Portal at Bristol City Council: www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/look-at-and-track-planning-applications
  2. Type in the Reference number:
    • 21/04948/F (Lewin’s Mead)
    • 21/04950/F (Baldwin Street)
    • 21/04946/F (Merchant Street
  3. Click “Make a comment” and add your objection.

Here’s some points to include:

  • 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. 

Above: Ref 21/04946/F – application for a BT Street Hub on the pavement opposite TSB, 36-38 Merchant Street, BS1 3EP

Above: Ref 21/04948/F – application for a BT Street Hub on the pavement outside Number One Bristol, Lewins Mead, BS1 2NR

Above: Ref 21/04950/F and 21/04951/A – application for a BT Street Hub on the pavement outside Pret-A-Manger, 42 Baldwin Street, BS1 1PN

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