Adblock Lambeth battle digital screen on Brixton Road

The newly formed Adblock Lambeth group is fighting a planning application for a digital screen on Brixton Road, South London.

Lambeth community (it’s you if you live and/or work in or around Lambeth): help us say no to a new digital billboard in our area.

What’s happening?

Billboard company Daylite is proposing to install a new digital billboard on 253 Brixton Road, replacing an existing poster site with a taller, more intrusive digital screen. Daylite says the new billboard will display “static” images, when these static adverts will in fact change up to every five seconds. The visual and light disturbance of these models is actually closer to outdoor ads containing animated, moving or video elements.

Why is it bad?

For various reasons! The proposed replacement billboard, through its fast-changing adverts, would increase light pollution for pedestrians and residents and is a major safety concern for road users. The application statement also clearly shows that Daylite did not properly consult the local community before submitting its proposal.

What can I do?

Objections are quick and easy and they make a big difference! Every year dozens of new advertising displays are blocked by local residents’ opposition across the UK.

As a member of the local community, you, just as anyone else, have the right to give your opinion. Tell your friends and neighbours to object!

How to object:
1. Go to https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=QMZ3RNBOHV200
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.

(If you have any difficulties finding the planning application go to: https://planning.lambeth.gov.uk/online-applications/ and enter the reference number for this planning application: 21/00140/ADV

The deadline to object is Tuesday 16th February 2021 so make sure you do this before the date.

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 planning application reference number. For this proposal, that is 21/00140/ADV. Again, make sure you do so before the 16th February or your voice won’t count.

We’ve compiled a few references from Lambeth Council’s own guidance to support you in your objections. Feel free to quote any of those for a stronger impact (see below).

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons for objecting…

Harm to safety

In its Guidance for Digital Roadside Advertising and Proposed Best Practice, Transport For London affirms: “research has shown that the period of change is an area where there could be some additional distraction to drivers” (paragraph 4.13).

The proposed replacement billboard displays images changing as fast as every five seconds, that is as much as 12 ads per minute. This is a major safety concern for road users because most drivers, cyclists or motorists would see more than one advert in the time they pass by the billboard.

Harm to amenity

Daylite argues that because Brixton Road is already a major road corridor and a commercial site, roadside adverts do not present public nor highway safety issues, nor do they hurt the local amenity (the character of the area).

The company argues that “advertisement would not adversely affect the visual amenity of the neighbourhood of the site” and that it “is likely to be acceptable”. We think it is not. On the contrary, we think it is corporate advertising that makes the local area less relatable for locals and damages the local economy further.

Light pollution

The billboard faces not only a major South London road but also private residential homes and the area is largely used by pedestrians. The fast-changing adverts would increase light pollution and be extremely intrusive to residents, especially those living in the flats above the shops at No. 248-258. Some of these windows will serve habitable rooms, potentially bedrooms, which will be within approx. 50m of the new illuminated billboard.

We’ve also written a few examples (see below) that you can adapt in the comment box. Feel free to take anything from this text, especially the references to Lambeth’s policies, but it is also important to write the reasons why it matters to you, as well as how you use the area (e.g. daily commute through the road, live nearby, etc.).

Remember that safety and amenity are the formal legal grounds with which planning applications for new advertising hoardings can be rejected.

While we completely agree with removing the existing hoarding, we do not believe it should be replaced at all. It may be worth suggesting removing the existing hoarding all together in your opposition comment.

References from Lambeth Council’s own guidance:

Harm to amenity: From the Council’s website, we know that the billboard is on a site within the Brixton Road Conservation Area (CA06)which is described as “… a linear conservation area of mostly early-mid 19th century development, terraced houses and commercial premises, of varying character and appearance.”

To make your comment stronger, you can reference the Lambeth Local Plan (2015) Policy Q17(b) and the supporting text at para 10.68: “Conservation area appraisals and assessments relating to the area regeneration schemes have identified advertisement hoardings as being harmful to the character of these areas and contributory in no small part to the perception of poor environmental quality/visual amenity. Such perceptions can be a barrier to inward investment and therefore the removal of advertisements and hoardings in these circumstances is considered a priority”.

About the properties directly around the hoarding, the Council’s Brixton Road Character Statement 2003 clearly states in paragraph 5.13: “Nos. 249 – 255 are imposing later Victorian semi-detached properties […] built on a large and commanding scale with prominent mansard roofs. They too had become largely vacant and in disrepair by the late 1990’s but were refurbished as flats in 1999. Their setting is however severely compromised by hideous advert hoardings and inappropriate suburban style close-boarded fencing enclosing unkempt front gardens…”

Removing the billboard all together:

The Council has already suggested that billboards of this type and position should not be supported. You could quote the Council’s Advertisements and Signage Guidance document (pg. 16 paras 5.30-33), where the paragraph 5.31 states: “In line with Policy Q17(b) where the Council has discontinuance powers it will seek to secure the removal of large panel advertisements where they are considered to harm amenity or safety; especially in conservation areas and in the settings of heritage assets”.

Examples of comments:
“I regularly cycle past the location and find that the existing billboard already is a safety concern, with the light pollution from its large backlit image so close to the road distracting drivers and cyclists. Adding an illuminated display with frequently changing images would further impact the safety of everyone on the road. Furthermore, with even more corporate advertising every minute, it would hurt the local character and economy; Brixton being a neighbourhood with a strong local character that I pride myself to live in.”

“The site is visible to a large number of houses on Brixton Road and around. Its fast-changing adverts would be extremely intrusive, especially after dark.”

“The proposition of erecting a digital billboard is not only unasked for but also hugely detrimental for local residents’ mental health and community spirit. Given the content of most corporate advertisements, the billboard could seriously undermine Brixton’s local character which celebrates the diversity of its residents and local businesses. Most adverts would work against positive messages for equality, body image and the climate emergency. I would instead support removing the existing hoarding all together, without replacing it.”

Adblock Lambeth logo

Who are we?

Adblock Lambeth is the latest Adblock group and the first one in London; part of the national network of Adfree Cities. We cherish our communities and want to protect them, so we oppose corporate advertising which harms body image, equality in representation, local business and the environment. We fight for happier and healthier cities. We dream of urban environments which celebrate all the people living in them and are committed to make our neighbourhoods more independent, creative and welcoming. We are seeking alternatives beyond consumerism: we celebrate community connection, solidarity, public art and nature.

Similar recent oppositions from Adblock Bristol:
https://adfreecities.org.uk/digital-billboard-application-receives-over-200-objections-from-localresidents/
https://adfreecities.org.uk/parsonst/

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