Help us block huge Lewisham adscreen

Attention Lewisham Adblockers! Those slippery snakes at Clear Channel are trying to install a humongous, hideous, polluting adscreen in our gorgeous borough. The proposed location is 343 Lee High Road. They want to blast mind-melting ads into our brains 24 hours a day. They have submitted planning application to the council, but we will fight, and WIN! And keep our streets clean.

We are communities, not commodities.

What can we do?

We can democratically object to our councillors. Enough objections from concerned citizens offers our best chance to win. Every objection counts until a council decision is made, so best not to delay!

How to object:

  1. You can object to the proposed adscreen >>>>> HERE. <<<<<
  2. Alternatively, go to the Lewisham Council Planning Portal, and find the application using reference number DC/22/128878
  3. (You will need to make an account to post an objection)
  4. Go to COMMENTS >> MAKE A COMMENT.
  5. Type and submit your comment, et voila! There’s no going back now, you’re officially part of the resistance. Please note, the planning portal has a ridiculous time-out feature, which will refresh without warning. We recommend drafting the objection on a document, and pasting it into the planning portal.

What should my comment include?

Councils tend to reject new billboards on grounds of amenity (the impact on how an area looks) and public safety. So it’s always good to include those factors in your objection. Also…..

  • Road safety – The digital billboard would distract drivers, diverting attention from the road and towards the billboard.
  • Personal – Tell your personal story! Why are you taking the time to object? What is it about advertising that drives you mad?
  • Energy and climate – An illuminated 48 sheet digital poster uses more than 11 UK households worth of electricity. In the context of the climate crisis and an energy crisis, this much energy purely for advertising seems grotesque. (Source: Adfree cities)
  • Wellbeing – The imposition of advertising on public space has a significant impact on mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Council Policy (Resources below)- It can be argued that digital billboards run contrary to the council’s declaration of a climate and ecological emergency. They emit light pollution, disturbing natural habitats, and consume vast amounts of energy from the grid. Lewisham’s Draft Planning policy states that digital billboards will be supported providing they don’t impact amenity, safety, or cause undue light pollution. However, there is no WAY that a big-arse glowing billboard won’t impact all those things.

    >>>> Draft Lewisham Local Plan <<<<
    Climate emergency declaration – SD1, Page 353
    Digital Screens – QD12, Page 133.

On that note, brave adblockers, please spread this far and wide! Submit your objections, let’s beat this billboard, and we’ll all enjoy a cleaner, healthier borough.

Here’s our full-length comment:

The application should be refused on the grounds of 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 approaching a busy intersection and need to concentrate their attention on city traffic, and therefore ought not to be distracted.

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. This is relevant in this case.

This application should be refused on the grounds of harm to amenity.

The applicant misleadingly claims that the advertisement will have no negative impact on local amenity. This is misleading as the screen would be visible to those living in nearby residential areas. Residents of the Met Apartments at 418 Lee High Road would look directly onto the screen, the screen’s light intruding constantly upon these properties even if angled away from them. This will be particularly true during winter months, with longer night time hours.

This application should be refused on the grounds of disability discrimination.

70% of disabilities are invisible and common aspects include light/noise sensibility and susceptibility to overstimulation. Attacks are common when the environment itself poses a form of psychological distress.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD, 2006) recognises that disability includes “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”

A new light-polluting billboard would run contrary to Lewisham’s Draft Local Plan, in which it is stated (QD7) that “Development should provide sensitively integrated lighting within the public realm to contribute to safe and attractive environments”. Given the potential adverse effects to those with sensory impairments, the illuminated billboard does not contribute to safety in the environment.

This application should be rejected on environmental and ecological grounds.

The applicant misleads the council in suggesting that digital poster displays are more sustainable and efficient than paper advertisements, ignoring the greater material and mineral cost needed to construct this screen and the electricity needed to power it. Though the applicant doesn’t give details of this development’s power requirements, similar developments have been shown to use the electricity needed to power 10 households. This is a gross waste that shouldn’t be permitted, particularly given the climate and energy crises.

We are experiencing a climate crisis and a cost of living crisis. Another billboard encouraging consumption is harmful to Lewisham Council’s net zero efforts and the local communities working to reduce their consumption and its impacts. In addition, night time luminescence such as the kind exhibited by these huge screens would be harmful to local wildlife which is already disadvantaged by the urban nature of this area. The proposed billboard’s location being in such close proximity to the River Quaggy, and its illumination, will adversely affect aquatic biodiversity and therefore operate in conflict with the council’s climate emergency declaration.

This application should be rejected because it contradicts Lewisham Council Draft Policy.

In addition to the above, this development does not fulfil the requirements of the Draft Lewisham Local Plan (2022) which states that:

  • “Development should provide sensitively integrated lighting within the public realm to contribute to safe and attractive environments…. address the potential adverse effect of lighting on amenity and biodiversity, including water habitats.” (QD7, 5.61)
  • “In the interests of protecting amenity proposals must address the impact that installations will have on surrounding uses and properties”. (QD12, 5.95)

This development would not meet these criteria and the applicant has not demonstrated a positive demand for its need. This development would not bring a positive development to the area but harm it. It would cross the boundary between public and private space by intruding unwelcome light and messaging into the public realm. It would have a disastrous impact on the environment of Londoners who inhabit the affected area .

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

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