No new digital screens in Bedminster, Bristol

Advertising giant JCDecaux wants to put a large digital advertising screen at the junction of Bedminster Down Road and Parson Street. The screen would be capable of showing six adverts per minute – designed to distract passing motorists, but having an intolerable impact on the people who live nearby, as well as the children who pass by every day on their way to the nearby primary school.

Digital advertising screens are unnecessary and intrusive, designed to push more and more big brand adverts at us which we cannot avoid as we go about our day. But objections make a big difference – since Adblock Bristol began, together with local residents we’ve managed to block 29 large billboards and 26 smaller hoardings from being erected. Make your voice heard by following the steps below to lodge your objection!

Once you’ve objected, share this blog on social media and with people in your network, and encourage them to take action with you. The more people who are able to speak, the more likely that the council will hear us.

How to Object

To object to this proposed development:

  1. Go to https://pa.bristol.gov.uk/online-applications/search.do?action=simple and enter code: 20/06128/A
  2. The application is titled 20/06128/A | Removal of 4no. hoarding panels and installation of 1no. single sided, illuminated, sequential, landscape display. | 1 – 21 Bedminster Down Road Bristol BS13 7AB
  3. Click ‘Make a Comment’.
  4. Write as much as you’d like about your objections. You might want to draft this in a document first so that you can save your work. You could include the following bases for dismissal:

Road safety

Road safety should be a key concern for the area, as www.crashmap.co.uk shows that there have been 17 traffic accidents on that stretch of road in the last 15 years, including one fatal collision. Parson Street station and the residential housing close by means that there is a risk to pedestrians from distracted drivers. It is clear that the applicant’s motivation in installing advertising infrastructure is to target motorists, as they have selected the site due to it being a “busy traffic corridor” and the site is designed to be seen by motorists exiting the city. In their own words,

“The application site adjoins a main transport route through Bristol, which carries
high volumes of traffic throughout the day and night. The fact that the site adjoins such a
busy road will constant traffic flows…provides the rationale for an advertising site”

This is harmful as illuminated advertising signs split the driver’s attention and potentially increase the risk of road traffic collisions. As the applicant cannot produce evidence to support the idea that digital advertising categorically does not contribute to road collisions, this proposed development should not be allowed to experiment with Bristolians’ safety.

Amenity

The applicant might cite the current street scene as “unprepossessing”, but for local residents this illuminated sign will be a significant intrusion into their neighbourhood. The current advertising hoardings on this site are already very damaging to the local amenity in a variety of ways, and their removal would be of great benefit to the surrounding area. The site is visible to a large number of houses in West Street and Bedminster Down Road. Because the proposal is for an illuminated sign with frequently changing images it will be very visually intrusive especially after dark.

The applicant seems to agree that advertising hoardings are damaging to local residents, as the applicant has stated their intent is to “rationalise” the current billboards with an illuminated screen and has recognised that illuminated signs are particularly intrusive to residents, as the applicant has offered to turn the screen off at night out of concern for residents. However, this new screen will stick out like a sore thumb, and the proposal to switch off the illumination during sleeping hours does not address the problem of its intrusiveness during waking hours.

It does not improve the amenity of an area to take away unsightly billboards and replace them with unsightly digital screens. Only removing the advertising hoardings would remedy this. Bristol’s own local plan argues 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.”

It is difficult to see how the proposed illuminated screen would fulfil this objective.

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