Cardiff Council recently received applications to site five ‘communications hubs’ at five locations in the city centre. The applications claim that these hubs will provide “a range of services that include free ultrafast Wi-Fi, free phone calls to landlines and charities, defibrillator, wayfinding, device charging, rapid connection to emergency services, public messaging capabilities, and a platform for other technologies to capture environmental data, CCTV and air quality monitoring”. But they also – surprise surprise – include bloody great energy-sapping advertising screens, with the applications admitting: “The single advertised rear of the Hub is the size of a standard 6 sheet advert built into a unit that stands at 2.6m in height and 1.3m in width and occupies an area of less than 0.50m2”.
The applications have been submitted by an agent on behalf of J C Decaux UK Ltd, who are seeking to put these units at the following locations:
- Adjacent to One Central Square (23/02549/FUL and 23/02550/ADV)
- Adjacent to Southgate House, Wood Street (23/02551/FUL and 23/02552/ADV)
- Adjacent to Capital Tower, Greyfriars Road (23/02553/FUL and 23/02554/ADV)
- Adjacent to Tŷ Admiral, David Street (23/02556/FUL and 23/02557/ADV)
- Adjacent to the Atrium, Adam Street (23/02558/FUL and 23/02559/ADV)
These units and similar measures have been successfully opposed elsewhere in the country, including by Adblock Lambeth and Adblock Hackney. As those groups highlighted in their objections, local councils are well within their rights to provide some of the ‘public service’ elements of these units (telephone provision, device charging, defibrillators etc) without including energy-wasting advertising and digital surveillance technology. These units are not a fair deal to the public, and Adblock Cardiff argues that they also go against the spirit of Cardiff Council’s own policies on climate change, and on creating a child-friendly city.
How to help
Each application is split into two sections – one for the ‘communications hub’ and the other for the advertising space included within it. We would urge you to go to Cardiff Council’s online planning portal, and to object to both elements of each application, using the reference numbers above. We would suggest highlighting three main areas of concern:
- The digital billboards would be incongruous to the streetscene, causing light and visual pollution.
- The communication hubs as a whole would obstruct the pavement and provide a distraction to road users.
- The digital billboards provide insufficient public benefit to balance out their constant energy consumption and their carbon footprint.
Please also spread the word on social media, tagging @adblockcardiff when you do!