JCDecaux and its controversial adverts are back. 

Readers will recall the French-based multinational’s unsuccessful efforts to brighten-up George Street and St Andrew Square back in 2016 (27.10.16). 

Now they have turned their eyes on another part of the New Town, with applications lodged for five, new, illuminated, double-sided, liquid crystal display units to replace analogue ones on existing bus shelters along Hanover and Frederick Streets (Refs 18/00948/ADV; 18/01019/ADV; 18/01023/ADV; 18/01024/ADV; 18/01027/ADV).

If approved, the ‘upgraded’, steel and aluminium framed LCD displays (measuring 1866mm [H] x 1052mm [W]  x 2142mm [Diag]) would, critics say, be brighter, distracting and even more intrusive than the rotating vinyl ones which JCDecaux successfully applied for in 2014 and 2015.

They would also drive a coach and horses through current consultations on the future design of George Street and the First New Town (Issue 270, p.2). 

JCDecaux’s last attempts to bring a little bit of downtown Tokyo to the Edinburgh World Heritage site were firmly rebuffed (6.12.16; 14.12.16), and we suspect opponents of the applications will deploy similar arguments to those cited by the Council last time round.

We imagine they will say consent should be refused because:

  • The introduction of the proposed digital advertisements into these visually sensitive locations would damage the unique and special historical character of Hanover and Frederick Streets.
  • The proposals would be detrimental to the character and appearance of the New Town Conservation Area and World Heritage Site.
  • The proposals would detract from views running north and south, and from the setting of and views to a number of listed buildings and structures.
  • The proposals would be contrary to the Council’s Guidance on Advertisements, Sponsorship and City Dressing, the Guidance on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas, the Edinburgh Design Guidance and the Street Design Guidance.
  • The ‘upgrade’ to LCD advertising, and the consequent increase in visual distraction, represents a material alteration in the manner of the current advertising space.
  • The proposals do not support the principles set out within the New Town Conservation Area Character Appraisal, The Edinburgh World Heritage Site Management Plan or the emerging vision and would introduce material changes to the First Town before the Councils George Street and First New Town consultation and design process has run its course.
  • The proposals would have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of the location, and would not accord with Regulation 4 (1) of the Town & Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 (as amended).
  • The proposals would do harm to the historic environment, and the architectural and cultural interest of this part of the city in the New Town Conservation Area, Old and New Towns World Heritage Site, being in close proximity to a number of listed buildings.

If you wish to comment on the applications, you have until 30 March to do so online here. You only need to do so once, but remember to state clearly whether you are supporting or objecting to the plans, and quote ALL FIVE reference numbers in your communication.


Frederick Street