Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Advertising hoardings appeal now in

The appeal by Forrest Media against the decision of the Council planning committee to have the internally lit advertising panel removed, is now in.  The planning committee decision has been upheld.  Now this is going to be another technical post.  In fact, as I know a number of people locally have been following this closely, I will replicate the appeal decision in full. In due course (but not yet) it should be available at this link.  (Previous posts September 2012 and February 2014.)
I dismiss the appeal and refuse to grant advertisement consent.
1. Regulation 4(1) of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements)
(Scotland) Regulations 1984 limits the exercise of the powers of control of advertisements
solely to the interests of amenity and public safety, and these matters are elaborated in
regulation 4(2). In particular regulation 4(2)(a) requires consideration “in the light of the
general characteristics of the locality, including the presence of any feature of historic,
architectural, cultural or similar interests”. In this case the council’s reason for refusal
relates solely to amenity and no issues of concern were raised in relation to public safety.
With the benefit of my site visit, and having regard to road conditions in the locality, that is not a view with which I would agree. In terms of regulation 21(7), Scottish Ministers may reverse or vary any part of the decision of the planning authority whether or not the appeal relates to that part or may deal with the application as if it had been made to them in the first instance. Accordingly, on the basis of the site inspection and the written submissions, I consider that the determining issues in this appeal are whether the proposed display would be contrary to the interests of amenity and public safety.
2. The appeal site is situated on the east side of Holyrood Park Road, a short distance
to the north of its traffic light controlled junction with Dalkeith Road. It is the south-west
corner of ground occupied by Parkside Bowling Club which lies immediately adjacent to the public car park entrance to the Royal Commonwealth Pool. To the south, north and west the bowling club is bounded by a substantial stone boundary wall measuring some 2
metres in height. The Royal Commonwealth Pool, to the south, and the Scottish Widows
hexagonal office building, which lie directly opposite the site and also face toward Dalkeith Road, are both category A listed buildings.  To the immediate north of the site are the grounds of the University of Edinburgh Pollock Halls of Residence where a number of the buildings are Category A listed.  There is a shared vehicular entrance to the bowling club car park and the grounds of Pollock Halls.

3. The proposal seeks consent for the display of an internally illuminated advertisement
panel measuring 6.540 metres long by 3.456 metres high sitting on a single pedestal unit
giving an overall display height of 5.5 metres. The panel would replace an existing
unauthorised display of the same dimensions. The difference between the proposal and
the existing display is that the lower edge of the proposed panel would sit level with the top of the boundary wall rather than there being a gap between the two, thus reducing the
overall height of the display.
4. Government policy remains that which is set out in SDD Circular 10/1984, and whilst
paragraph 17 recognises that properly displayed and well designed advertisements are well accepted and approved by the general public and their presence in many street scenes will enhance and improve the environment, it also makes clear that applications for consent must be considered on their merits, in terms of their effects on the area concerned.
5. In this case the appeal site lies in close proximity to a number of listed buildings, the
boundary of a conservation area and, to an area of Great Landscape Value. The
immediate and wider area, although of mixed leisure, commercial and residential use,
enjoys a high standard of environment quality. In such circumstances there is a need for
careful control and there must be a reasonable degree of restraint in any proposed
commercial advertisement display so that undistinguished or irrelevant proposals do not
compromise such buildings or locations.
6. In amenity terms, even allowing for the qualified support to be found in Circular
10/1984, there is no doubt that the appeal site is located in a very sensitive location and it
is reasonable to adopt a stricter approach to the control of advertisements than might be
appropriate in some other areas. Whilst I acknowledge that the proposal would have little
impact on the views or settings of the listed buildings or disrupt the views to Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Craggs, it would nevertheless be an unrelated feature which would have no functional relationship with the site. It would be isolated and would offer no improvement to the site or the area in general. The panels proportions are large and even allowing for the slight lowering of overall display height, it would create an over conspicuous and obtrusive feature in the streetscape and this impact would clearly increase when it is illuminated. My conclusion is that the proposal would have an intolerable visual impact on the amenity of the locality, therefore, it would be detrimental to the interests of amenity.
7. The second determining issue relates to the question of public safety. The primary
purpose of any roadside advertisement is, of course, to be noticeable and to draw attention otherwise it would not be performing the function for which it is intended. Holyrood Park Road in the vicinity of the appeal has a wide two lane carriageway on both sides which are separated with a hard surfaced central reservation. It is a busy commuter route. For vehicles joining from Dalkeith Road and seeking entrance to the Royal Commonwealth Pool car park and the Pollock Halls of Residence there are breaks in the central reservation plus filter lanes.  A pedestrian controlled crossing is located, approximately at an equal distance, between the two access points. On the opposite side of the road there is an entrance to the Scottish Widows car park.  I noted on my site visit traffic flow was regular in both directions, and although the pedestrian crossing and public use of the Commonwealth Pool car park was temporarily suspended, there was constant movement to and from the Pollock Halls and the Scottish Widows car park together with pedestrians regularly crossing the road carriageway.  Where there is a combination of regular traffic flow, lane and turning manoeuvres and continual pedestrian crossing, there will be cause for concern. Although such concern may be minimal, a large raised eyecatching advertisement display has the potential to unnecessarily distract drivers’ attention to the extent that public safety standards would be reduced. I therefore conclude that the proposal could be a potentially dangerous additional distraction to road users and consent should also be refused on public safety criteria.

8. I have taken account of all matters raised in the submissions, giving careful
consideration in particular to the site history, the council’s earlier decision under reference 12/02171/ADV and the grounds of appeal, but find none that outweigh the considerations that the proposal subject to appeal is unacceptable because it would be contrary to the interests of amenity and public safety.
D T Alexander

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