It is now almost a week since details of a proposal to erect four advertisement hoardings on the Mansfield Place roundabout appeared online.
Since then, local disapproval has come to the boil on social media and this website, prompting 61 letters of objection to the Council’s Planning Portal.
One of the last – and probably most comprehensively reasoned – came yesterday from the New Town & Broughton Community Council. We produce the text in full below, unedited save for the addition of hyperlinks to related webpages.
The public’s response to this case has been unusually vehement. Any readers wishing to add their observations have until the end of today to do so HERE.
From: Richard Price – NTBCC Planning Convenor
12th July 2020
The City of Edinburgh Council,
East Market Street,
Edinburgh, EH8 8BG
Dear Mr. Kyle,
20/02480/ADV Consent requested to install and display four non-illuminated roundabout sponsorship signs on the roundabout facing each of the entrance roads. Advertising Hoarding On Roundabout At Broughton Street Edinburgh
The New Town & Broughton Community Council (NTBCC) has been made aware of the above application and the many concerns that local residents have regarding this.
NTBCC would not normally make representations on proposals for advertising (i.e. /ADV applications) but given the concerns raised by residents and the apparent standard, ‘one size fits all’ approach being taken by the applicant – with little appreciation of the specifics of the local area, we feel that it is both necessary and correct to clearly express the views of local residents on this particular application.
We note that the application site lies predominantly within the Edinburgh World Heritage site – the boundary of which bisects Mansfield Place and Broughton Street running north to south – also adjacent to many Category A listed buildings to the west but for reasons not fully clear to NTBCC, does not include the Category A listed Mansfield Traquair Centre to the north east. We also note that the application sits wholly within the New Town Conservation Area.
The proposal to install 4 large, non-illuminated advertising panels seems to be one of many proposed across Edinburgh city centre and wider environs. It would also appear to be an Edinburgh Council promoted scheme and we are also aware of the University of Edinburgh’s recent statement stating they are not connected or aware of this proposal – even though the examples submitted with the application clearly bear their details. Their involvement or otherwise is, however, not material in determination of this application.
Whilst NTBCC understand that advertising in public spaces (i.e. the public realm) could be seen by Edinburgh Council as an opportunity to monetise these spaces and raise additional revenue (deemed necessary given the severe financial pressures that the Council is under), it is important to both recognise and consider other aspects pertinent to the locations where this may be proposed.
NTBCC are aware of other recent /ADV proposals within the New Town and the World Heritage site which relate to standalone advertising within the public realm; be they self-standing advertising structures or the placement of advertisements on existing structures within the Edinburgh World Heritage site.
We are also aware that the determination of these applications is by reference to the ‘Regulation 4 (1) of the Town & Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 (as amended)’ which states that advertisement control shall be exercisable only in the interests of amenity and public safety.
In regard to the above regulations, we would also note recent decisions by the City of Edinburgh Council on two applications for advertising within the World Heritage site and in close proximity to many listed building – those being a proposed advertising display (16/03547/ADV) at St Andrew Square Tram Stop and 17/05097/ADV [Breaking news, 6.12.16, 23.11.17] for a standalone advertising hoarding on the eastern edge of St Andrew Square. Both of these applications were refused as they would have an unacceptable and detrimental impact on the amenity of the location; and not in accord with ‘Regulation 4 (1) of the Town & Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 (as amended)’, or the Council's current guidance on Advertisements, Sponsorship and City Dressing.
These applications were also connected with a wider Council scheme though a tendering process to select a company to install ‘Arts and Culture Advertising Structures’ throughout the City.
We can see little difference between the applications above that were refused permission and the application in question here. The introduction of large advertising hoardings, for effectively a permanent period, into this visually sensitive location would damage the unique and special historical character of the area and as stated in the Planning officer’s report to 17/05097/ADV, ‘the proposal will detract from the setting of and views to a number of listed buildings. The proposal will also result in street clutter which will be uncharacteristic of and detrimental to the special historical setting….’.
From a more pragmatic standpoint, in terms of public safety, the proposal is to install 4 large advertising signs opposite each of the four junctions to the island at the northernmost end of Broughton Street which intersects with London Street / East London Street. This is a busy city centre junction – being one of the remaining north–south routes across Edinburgh city centre. Given the current geometry / construction of this roundabout – the proposed hoardings would be located above street level, presenting a significant visual distraction to vehicle drivers and cyclists navigating this busy roundabout – as advertising hoardings are, by their nature, intended to attract attention. In our view, this would be an unacceptable intrusion and would negatively impact on public safety, again contrary to the Regulations as listed above.
For these reasons, the New Town & Broughton Community Council would wish to register its objection to the proposal to install large advertising hoardings at this location.
Richard Price, NTBCC Planning Convener
On behalf of the New Town & Broughton Community Council
UPDATE, 3.45pm: At some point today, we're not sure when, the mock-up showing a supposed photograph of Edinburgh University's sponsorship advertisement on the roundabout was removed from the Council's Planning Portal. No acknowledgement of, or explanation for, the deletion appears on that website. So far as we know, none of the people who has so far responded to the application has been informed. Spurtle thinks such 'invisible' retrospective tweaks on official public platforms are bad practice. They leave commentators unable to trust the permanence or reliability of the evidence on which they based their opinion, and give the appearance of collusion behind the scenes. (In fact, in this case, the change has more likely come about due to Edinburgh University pressure). Use of the technique – also recently encountered in the Council consultation on Thriving Green Spaces – should cease immediately.