Ad companies chase big payday – FIVE digital boards planned for Lambeth

Media company JCDecaux is proposing to build five new digital billboards in Lambeth.

The billboards would be free-standing, measuring 6.2 m x 3.1 m, and placed right next to busy roads at Waterloo Roundabout, Atkins Road, Westminster Bridge Road and two in Kennington.

Adblock Lambeth has so far successfully objected to 4 billboard applications, but dealing with 5 at once presents a new challenge and we need your help.

What can I do?

Write a comment on the planning portal’s website to a chosen location or to all 5! Remember that the more personal and referring to the locality the better. There are some example comments at the end of this blog.

1 – Click on the location you wish to object for below

2 – Click ‘Make a Comment’ on the top right.

3 – Fill in your details and write why you are opposing the proposition in the comment box

Site 1 – Waterloo Roundabout SE1 8XR – 21/04217/ADV

Site 2 – Kennington Lane SE11 5QY  – 21/04220/ADV

Site 3 – Kennington Road SE1 7BJ  – 21/04221/ADV

Site 4 – Atkins Road SW4 8PU – 21/04222/ADV

Site 5 – Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7EW – 21/04223/ADV

If you have any difficulties finding the planning application go to: https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/ and enter the reference number for the planning application.

Alternatively, you can email planning@lambeth.gov.uk to let them know you are opposing the proposal and why, but in this case, make sure you include the relevant application number above.

Lambeth Council don’t make things very clear with their deadlines, but it looks as if they will be moving to make a decision at the end of the month, so submissions should be in before then.

What should I include in my objection?

Lambeth’s latest “Local Plan” states that replacements boards will only be accepted where they “contribute positively to the local scene” and “do not add unacceptable street/visual clutter”.

In your objection comment, it’s important to use those arguments and if possible, refer to the policy Q17, see below for a screen grab of the policy.

The 5 locations (with mock-up photos)

SITE 1 – Waterloo Roundabout, SE1 8XR

  • A similar application was already proposed and refused in 2017 (17/05295/ADV) for both safety and amenity concerns
  • Conservation area
  • Would hide the view of the listed St. John’s Church with All Saints looking North from Waterloo Road

SITE 2 – Kennington Lane SE11 5QY

  • Was granted limited permission to JCDecaux in 2014 but only for 5 years and following specific restriction
  • Since then, the company abandoned the billboard, which hasn’t been used nor removed. It has been visual clutter and highly detrimental to the look of the area.
  • JCDecaux isn’t proposing to remove the abandoned billboard but to add a large digital screen next to it

Site 3 – Kennington Road SE1 7BJ

  • A similar application for a vertical (portrait) screen was already proposed and refused in 2018, for both safety and amenity concerns
  • Very residential area: light pollution and view obstruction for some residents
  • Will make the area look commercial and industrial, instead of residential and green

SITE 4 – Atkins Road SW4 8PU

  • Safety concern as it’s directly ahead of drivers in the middle of the road, where road signs usually are placed
  • The area is very leafy and green and the proposal is far from integrated into the local scene and landscaping
  • The light pollution would heavily disrupt the local wildlife

SITE 5 – Westminster Bridge Road SE1 7EW

  • Conservation area
  • Will massively block the view from the flats behind
  • Turning the area into a dystopian capitalist space, heavily harms the character of area

Climate crisis and public safety

JCDecaux’s greenwashed application dossier claims that their design will “meet the climate emergency and ensure no harm to the environment is created by [their] business operations.” Yet the yearly consumption of every proposed billboard is the equivalent of at least 11 households (although in brighter and longer days, it can consume up to 37 households’) worth of energy!

In times where an ever-increasing part of the population lives in fuel poverty, wrecking the planet to feed advertising boards is decadent and immoral.The current climate crisis is a matter of public health and public safety.

Considering the irreparable harm that those screens would cause, through their production, their energy usage and by fuelling the fast-food, fast-fashion-honouring world of consumerism, these applications are a danger to public health. Every screen would contribute to global warming, therefore be a danger to the residents of Lambeth and people everywhere.

Human rights

There are many reasons why it’s unacceptable to rely on money from corporate advertising for public services and the council needs to find the necessary funding for public services elsewhere, such as by taxing the revenue raised through advertising or lobbying the government for more public funds.

Advertising both directly and indirectly impacts human rights, i.e: freedom of information, freedom from discrimination or freedom of thought, the right to life, survival and development or the right to be free from violence and abuse.

As such, it negatively impacts the environment on a non-negotiable scale, through its greedy energy consumption (despite JCDecaux’s greenwashing) and by disrupting the local wildlife through its light pollution, for example.

To find out more, check out Adfree Cities’s recent report ‘At What Cost’, studying the impacts of advertising and consumerism on human, community and planetary well-being, which is downloadable for free here.

Example comments

“Referring to Lambeth’s planning policy Q17, this application should be refused on the following grounds: This billboard would stand out massively from the existing landscape, aggressively attracting road users and residents’ attention with its all-day lit display. It is an eyesore and does not fit with the local area at all. The roads are busy enough, we do not need extra distractions nor extra clutter.”

“Considering the irreparable harm that those screens would cause, through their production, their energy usage and by fuelling the fast-food, fast-fashion-honouring world of consumerism, these applications are a danger to public health. This screen would contribute to global warming for no valid reason, therefore be a danger to the residents of Lambeth and people everywhere. The current climate crisis is a matter of public health and public safety and the council has a duty of care towards its residents”

“In times where an ever-increasing part of the population lives in fuel poverty, wrecking the planet to feed advertising boards is decadent and immoral. This screen would consume the equivalent of at least 11 households. Lambeth Council needs to show the example and be responsible.”

“The erection of this digital billboard itself would negatively impacts the environment on a non-negotiable scale, through its greedy energy consumption (despite JCDecaux’s greenwashing) and by disrupting the local wildlife, for example through its light pollution. By doing so, it would breach international right such as the right to life, survival and development.”

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