Controversial Wimbledon Street Advertising Plan Is Refused

Existing advertising board is now threatened after planning decision

Advertising boardAdvertising screen in The Broadway in Wimbledon. Picture: @HaydonsNorth

Plans for a controversial new advertising screen in Wimbledon town centre have been turned down by councillors.

The 10 feet (nearly 3m) tall board was proposed for 87 The Broadway, outside the Diba restaurant. Applicant JC Decaux wanted to replace an existing board with an upgraded version.

The new board - called a 'Street Hub' - would be half a metre closer to the road, to give more room for people using the pavement, Merton's planning committee was told on July 14.

It is one of six new advertising screens planned for streets in and around Wimbledon. Critics of the scheme to set up more advertising screens in Merton say they block sightlines, impede pedestrians and distract drivers.

While a board has existed outside 87 The Broadway since 2016, council officers recommended the planned upgraded version was moved half a metre away to give more pavement space.

While officers recommended approval of the application for "Advertising Consent", the plan was 'called in' for a planning committee decision by Lib Dem leader, Councillor Anthony Fairclough.

He told the meeting: "This is an area of high footfall, and there are numerous objections on sound planning principles. Covid requires us all to spend more time outside. Refusing this is a way to show the applicant that we take accessibility seriously".

Mobility scooter user Councillor Gill Manly (Labour) said: "It is a minefield trying to get through that area. There must have been a series of very peculiar planning blunders that have created this maelstrom of metal. Right now it is a mess. It is a waiting for an accident."

Councillor Stuart Neaverson (Labour) added: "I don't see how it fits in with encouraging people to use our streets, and encouraging active travel".

But Councillor Martin Whelton (Labour) pointed out that a sign had existed in the same spot since 2008, and he would support it remaining.

He was the only Councillor to vote to in favour of giving advertising consent for five years for the upgraded and newly-located screen. Eight councillors voted against it, and it had already met with objections from Love Wimbledon, the Wimbledon Society and the Merton Centre for Independent Living.

Lib Dem Councillor Susie Hicks also pointed out that the five-year approval for the existing board has now expired. It is understood that enforcement action could now take place for the removal of the existing sign.

However a screen planned for 173 Kingston Road, near the Merton Park tram stop, has already been given "Advertising Consent" by council officers. Other new hubs approved are in South Wimbledon, Raynes Park, Colliers Wood and Mitcham.

Each hub would be installed at no cost to the council. They offer fast wi-fi connections for those who register via e-mail. The council would get the use of 5% of screentime to enable them to publicise council services, as well as information such as weather and local maps.

Each hub can house monitoring for noise and traffic pollution. They also offer free UK phone calls and a 999 emergency button.

More than 400 have been installed around the UK, with some drawing attention to local drug issues through the misuse of the free phone call facility.

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July 18, 2022