Digital billboard application on the roundabout on LS12 6HX (reference 20/01535/ADV)

There is a new application to the Leeds city council to build an electronic billboard on the roundabout in LS12 6HX (planning reference: 20/01535/ADV). This electronic billboard would replace an existing paper one, which means more ads (since the electronic one will be displaying a new image every 10 seconds or so) and more visual impact (because digital billboards are brighter than paper ones). The deadline for objections is the 27th of April. If you wish to object
 – follow the link to the planning portal here
– in the search bar, enter the planning reference: 20/01535/ADV
 – open the comments tab log in with your credentials
 – write a few lines about why you think it is a bad idea to have a new billboard there
(more information on how to object here: How to object)

Here are some arguments you can make for objecting:


Road safety

Adding a new distraction to the site will make cycling even more dangerous. The proposed location for this new digital billboard is a very busy roundabout, that has seen more than 20 accidents in the last 10 years (see https://www.crashmap.co.uk/Search), of which 12 involved bikes. In a context of climate crisis and to be consistent with the recent declaration of climate emergency by the Leeds City Council, it is important to prioritise the safety of cyclist over the financial interests of large corporations.

Traffic accidents on the roundabout for the last 10 years

The applicant claims that setting up the new digital billboard would be a ‘like-for-like’ replacement of the existing ad. This is not correct, as a digital billboard is by nature a brighter and more strident structure. In addition, regardless of how often the images in the billboard change, there will always be a moment when a driver sees a large image suddenly changing in their field of vision. Adding more visual distractions to the area will be, again, detrimental to the safety of Leeds citizens.

The fact that there is an existing paper billboard does not constitute a precedent for putting up a new electronic one. Only in the past few months, several similar applications have been rejected, both on the grounds of amenity and road safety (for example 19/07383/ADV, 19/07401/ADV, 19/07882/ADV or 20/00281/ADV)

The area is already cluttered with several billboards. Drivers coming north from Domestic road onto the roundabout will be bombarded by images unnecessary to their driving. This is a good opportunity to de-clutter the site by not renewing the permission of having a billboard in this site.

View from the roundabout when driving eastwards

Amenity

The proposal will affect the amenity of the place. The applicant states that the new unit ‘will make a positive contribution to the street scene’. Firstly, this shows that the new application is not a ‘like-for-like’ replacement of the old one, and therefore the impact on amenity needs to be reassessed. Secondly, it is not clear how the new digital ad would achieve such goal.

It is true that the considered site is predominantly industrial in character. However, this should not be a reason to impose visually aggressive streetscapes upon commuters or people working in the area. In addition, residents from the Clyde approach and its surrounding just north of the proposed site may take this route to the green areas, football pitches or allotments just south of the railway.

View of the proposed electronic billboard at night

Environmental impact

The applicant claims that by removing the need for paper posters and using LEDs, ‘digital displays represent a sustainable display methodology that is greener and cleaner than the traditional methods […]’. This argument does not take into consideration the energy and resources required to produce the new ad. In order to make such a claim, a full life cycle analysis of the proposed billboard must be performed.

Finally, the current paper display has a power consumption of 1392 W (according to its own planning application 11/01404/ADV). The consumption of an electronic billboard such as the one proposed varies between 4752 W and 15840 W (see application 19/07383/ADV), so 3.5 to 11 times more than the current solution. This is equivalent to 14 to 48 median UK households (see this post on a rejected application). Again, in a context of climate crisis and to be consistent with the recent declaration of climate emergency by the Leeds City Council, it is not acceptable that such large amounts of energy are spent for the sole benefit of large corporations.

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