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Application for huge digital display by end of Mina Road

Thursday 15 December 2016

St Werburghs fought hard to get rid of most of the ugly advertising billboards that lined the main roads though there are still half a dozen that need to go. Now Insite Poster Properties of Cirencester want to erect a 7.5 metre high digital screen next to the IT centre at the end of Mina Road. They are using the precedent that Mayor Ferguson set last year when he gave permission for several billboards by the M32 to give Bristol City Council a bit of extra rental income.

The proposed billboard is to face northwards towards incoming traffic on the M32 poised to catch driversí attention as they hit the speed restrictions. Legislation on billboards prevents their use if they are harmful to amenity or safety. A changing digital image raised 2metres up and displayed on a 7.7metre by 5metre screen is designed to attract a driverís eye and would seem automatically to be at risk of causing distraction, which could lead to accidents.

Harm to amenity is less well defined but it is designed to prevent industrial scale advertising in the context of residential areas, particularly if near a Conservation area. Gatton Road, though not in Conservation area is a pleasant street of Victorian terraced housing, which will be exposed to this constantly changing (every 10 seconds), constantly lit, massive display. The application doesnít appear to include any consultation with local people. Neither does it include visualizations of how it would look despite claiming to. The applicants dismiss the area as rather utilitarian.

Although largely facing the M32 this enormous bright display would set an ugly precedent and impact on Gatton Road residents in particular. If this is granted there is a real danger other advertising companies could be emboldened to convert the existing paper billboards on York Street/Sevier Street into massive brightly lit, constantly changing digital displays. This looks like yet another (after last yearís proposed diesel power station) cheeky application by people with no regard for St Werburghs. Itís also cynical to slip it in just before the Christmas holidays.

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