A third giant digital ad screen for the M32? No thanks!

Update: After a massive 98 objections, this screen was REFUSED planning permission on 2nd August 2022! The Advertiser may still appeal but the case for refusal was strong – find the details in the Officer Report on the planing portal for this application, using the instructions below.

This week we need your help to block a new, giant, brightly lit digital billboard overlooking the M32 in Bristol. Despite more than 2300 people signing a petition to remove the two existing M32 screens in Easton, it seems advertisers haven’t got the picture – London-based real estate agency Ardent Land have applied to erect a new screen in St Werburgh’s, near Bloc Climbing Wall and directly opposite Fox Park.

As well as being bright, distracting and harming local people and wildlife, this screen would use the same electricity as more than 11 average UK homes per year.

See below for a simple step-by-step guide to lodging your objection – it should take just 5 minutes. In the last four years we’ve worked together to block more than 30 screens from coming to Bristol, and we can block this one too.

The location of the two existing screens (in red) and the proposed new screen (in pink).
One of the existing digital ad screens next to the M32 in Easton.

How to object:

> Go to https://www.bristol.gov.uk/planning-and-building-regulations/look-at-and-track-planning-applications

> Click: Search for planning applications

> Type 22/01909/A to find the application for this new screen

> Click ‘Make A Comment

The Council can reject the application on the basis of harm to ‘Road Safety’ and ‘Amenity’ (meaning, will the screen affect your ability to enjoy the place you live, and the character of the area?).

In your objection, also explain what this development would mean to you and how it would affect your life. For example, do you use the M32 to drive in and out of Bristol? Do you live, work or play near the screen, or visit Fox Park as local green space? The application states that the area affected is “overwhelmingly commercial” implying local people won’t be affected – but we know that’s not true! 

In the last 2 years, two screens proposed for the M32 have been stopped by community action, as well as 30+ large screens stopped across the city since 2017. We can stop this screen too if enough of us object today! 

Please share this with your friends and colleagues and get in touch if you want more info: adblockbristol@gmail.com

Adblock Bristol’s objection

Our full objection is pasted here for inspiration; but make sure your objection is personal to you. It doesn’t need to be long!

This application should be refused on the grounds of road safety. 
In situating this development the applicant seeks to divert drivers attention from the road and onto the advert screen, which would change every 10 seconds. Drivers at this point are leaving the motorway and need to concentrate their attention on city traffic, and therefore ought not to be distracted.

The applicant themselves refers to Waterman, commissioned by Transport for London in 2013 which states that it is “clear that in certain circumstances, advertisements can contribute to driver distraction.” In addition, The impact of road advertising signs on driver behaviour and implications for road safety: A critical systematic review, by Oscar Oviedo-Trespalacios; Verity Truelove; Barry Watson; Jane A. Hinton identified and reviewed 90 documents exploring the impact of advertising on road safety. It found that: “while most studies remain inconclusive, there is an emerging trend in the literature suggesting that roadside advertising can increase crash risk, particularly for those signs that have the capacity to frequently change (often referred to as digital billboards).”
This report specifically recommends that new digital advertising developments are not situated where they would be located either at a junction, or directly in the driver’s view as they approach a junction. In this case this is relevant as this stretch of road has multiple junctions where drivers will be changing lanes and preparing to leave the motorway, whilst on the stretch of motorway affected by this development.

This application should be refused on the grounds of harm to amenity.
The applicant describes the site location as “overwhelmingly commercial”. This is misleading as the screen would be visible from those in residential neighborhoods such as those in Easton. Residents of houses on Fox Road in Easton would look directly onto the screens, and light from the screen would intrude into these properties 24/7, even if the screen is angled away from them. This will be particularly so in the winter months when hours of darkness are longer and tree cover is limited.

During research conducted by Adblock Bristol, residents of this area described that the existing two digital screens on the M32 (developments 15/04407/A and 16/05968/A) have negatively affected them. One Easton resident said:

My home looks out onto the motorway. Everytime I look out of my bedroom window I see a large digital screen glaring at me. It obscures my view- it is grotesque and bright and makes me feel angry that companies are flashing their advertisements in my home and trying to sell me their product. I find it very intrusive in my life. The screens lower my mood and make me feel sad.

The full summary of testimonials can be viewed here

Furthermore the fact that the motorway runs through the city does not automatically negate the reality that St Werburghs is a well established residential area with a vibrant community presence. The applicant refers to the nearby climbing wall, this is in addition to local sites including The Mound, Mina Road park, St Werburghs City Farm and St Werburghs Community Centre, all of which are within a stone’s throw of this location and all of which indicate that this is a lively place where people live and work, not an abandoned commercial neighborhood. 

The application should be rejected on the grounds of cumulative impacts
The applicant states that “There are no other commercial advertising displays visible in the same view as the proposed.” This is completely false and betrays the fact that the agent is located in London and is not actually familiar with the City of Bristol. Those who are will know that this development would be adjacent to the two existing M32 digital advertising screens previously mentioned. It is clear that from some parts of the city – and the motorway – all three screens will be visible, and residents living opposite the motorway will be most affected. 

This application should be rejected environmental and ecological grounds
The applicant misleads the reader by suggesting that saving paper advertisements will be an environmental saving, completely ignoring the much greater use of materials and minerals needed to construct this screen and the electricity use needed to power it. Although this applicant doesn’t give details of power demand of this development, other similar developments have been shown to use the same electricity needed to power 10 households. This is a gross waste that should not be permitted. 
We are living in a time of climate crisis and another billboard encouraging people to consume more is harmful to the efforts of Bristol Council and the local communities working to reduce their consumption and the harmful impacts it has. In addition, nighttime luminescence such as the kind exhibited by these huge screens would be harmful to the local wildlife which is already disadvantaged by the urban nature of this area. Therefore this development contradicts the Council’s Climate Emergency motion, Ecological Emergency motion and the Mayor’s One City Strategy, which calls for curbs on new advertising infrastructure.

This application should be rejected because it contradicts Bristol City Council Policy
In addition to the above this development does not fulfill the requirements of the Bristol City Local Plan (2011) which states that 

New development in Bristol should deliver high quality urban design. Development in Bristol will be expected to:
– Contribute positively to an area’s character and identity, creating or reinforcing local distinctiveness
– Deliver a coherently structured, integrated and efficient built form that clearly defines public and private space
– Safeguard the amenity of existing development and create a high-quality environment for future occupiers.”

This development would not meet any of these criteria and the applicant has not demonstrated a positive demand for it’s need, simply relying on erroneously labeling the site location as a commercial area. This development would not bring a positive development to the area but rather harm it. It would cross the boundary between public and private space by intruding unwelcome light and messaging into the public realm. Finally it would have a disastrous impact on the environment of future Bristolians who inhabit the area affected.

For all these reasons we call on Bristol City Council to reject this application. 

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