Two new applications… let’s call them the illegal and the deadly!

Dear AdBlockers,

We are back with a double mission for you. There are two new applications for a replacement of paper billboards with digital ones that push us to self-organise and object on the Leeds planning portal. These applications are particularly important, as they are quite dangerous to our community in different ways.

One requests the replacement of a paper billboard on 71 Commercial Road in Kirkstall LS5 3AT. The paper billboard currently located there appeared in 2019 without a prior application in the portal. That is, it never passed evaluation from the planning team regarding road safety and other concerns. The other billboard is located on 90 Compton Road in Harehills LS9 6DG, a busy junction with dozens of accidents in the last years. The deadline to submit objections to both applications is March 16th, 2021.

Here is how you object:
 β€“ follow the link to the planning portal for the LS5 application here and for the LS9 application here
 β€“ open the comments tab and log in with your credentials
 β€“ write a few lines about why you think it is a bad idea to have a new billboard there
Below we share some specifics about the applications, which you can use in your objections. You can also find more general guidelines on how to object here.

The illegal application: 71 Commercial Road Kirkstall Leeds LS5 3AT

  • We could not find a previous application and permission for the existing paper billboard. As one can see on the historical view from Google maps (see image below), the billboard was not there in 2015. In 2018, there is a printed sheet advertising the furniture store in the building, and in 2019 – there is the billboard mounted on an infrastructure with lights. As there was no formal application to any of these changes, their effects on local amenity, safety and environment was never evaluated either.
Site in 2015
Site in 2018
Site in 2019
  • There are a few other billboards just a few metres away from the proposed location, one of which only 25 metres away. This leads to a saturation of advertising, which may further increase the risk of distractions and light pollutions. As we did not find a prior advertising application on this postcode, none of these ad locations has been properly evaluated for potential adverse effects. There is also a cycle lane on the side of the road of the proposed billboard, making road safety even higher concern. Again, the Highway team was not consulted regarded the safety of cyclists and other road users. Several traffic accidents have also been registered on the same road (see map below).
  • While the applicant states that “the position and size of the advertisement will not change”, this is incorrect. The position on the side of the building will be different, particularly much higher and more visible compared to the existing position. The application suggests a position 2.5 metres from the ground, while the billboard is currently about a metre from the ground.
Incident at the proposed site from showed as yellow and red exclamation marks, indicating light and severe incidents.
Proposed dimensions for the digital billboard

The deadly application: 90 Compton Road Harehills Leeds LS9 6DG

  • The proposed digital billboard will be on an extremely busy junction. In the last 10 years, there has been 15 road incidents at the junction alone and more than 30 within a radius of 50 m (see image below). Digital billboards are more intrusive visually and can interfere with traffic lights, which makes them more dangerous for road users. In fact, a paper by Oviedo-Trespalacios states that “there is an emerging trend in the literature suggesting that roadside advertising can increase crash risk, particularly for those signs that have the capacity to frequently change (often referred to as digital billboards).” This development would therefore pose a serious threat to the safety of road users.
Incident at the proposed site from showed as yellow and red exclamation marks, indicating light and severe incidents.
  • The area where the digital billboard is proposed is a residential neighbourhood, which is not suitable for a digital billboard. The billboard would be very dominant to viewers from adjacent houses and light from the sign may leak out and cause nuisance to residents. Residents from the corner of Foundry approach and Harehills lane have their windows less than 30 metres away from the location of the proposed billboard. Even at the proposed luminance levels, this will cause a significant disturbance to these residents at night.
    The digital billboard would harm the amenity of the area in an unacceptable manner.
  • A digital billboard consumes a lot of energy, between 10 and 40 times more than a paper one! Decisions on planning applications must take into account the Leeds Core Strategy (adopted in September 2019), which notes in paragraph 2.42 that one of the key challenges is “Ensuring that the physical development and growth of the District is managed in a sustainable way”. Clearly, increasing the electricity consumption by more than 10 to 40 times does not fit the description of managing the district in a sustainable way.
    The proposed development therefore goes against the Leeds Core Strategy.

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