Illuminated billboard for Church Road will be 'danger to wildlife' and traffic

March 07 2020
Illuminated billboard for Church Road will be 'danger to wildlife' and traffic

AN ILLUMINATED advertising billboard along one of Bristol's busiest stretches of road would be dangerous and could affect hundreds of nearby homes, say residents.

Outdoor media company Global has asked Bristol City Council for permission to replace two regular billboards along the A420 in Church Road, St George, with one 3m x 6m lit up sign.

If permission is granted, an illuminated advert would change every 10 seconds and would be targeted at drivers heading in the direction of the city centre.

But the application has proved unpopular with people living near the site, which is between St George Community Centre and Sikh temple Siri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara Bristol.

More than 90 have so far registered objections to the scheme on the council’s website.

The billboards sit alongside a further advertising hoarding on land owned by Bristol City Council behind a planted area created by volunteers from community group St George In Bloom.

Dozens of residents have objected to the proposals, asking the council to consider the negative impact the sign will have on the community.

They argue it would be distracting to motorists and could cause accidents as well as fearing light pollution, danger to wildlife in nearby St George Park and wasted energy.

Church Road is a notoriously dangerous road for traffic accidents and I can't imagine having a bright and potentially animated ad screen will help this,” said one objector from nearby Seneca Street.

This is also a residential area and sits opposite housing. Some of these screens are so bright that light pollution might be seen in many streets around the screen affecting potentially hundreds of residents.

Bristol has recently declared an ecological crisis so it seems like an absurd waste of energy to install and run digital ad screens.”

The resident went on to say: “I also worry about the potential impact to wildlife, especially considering the site of the sign sits between two of the areas few green spaces (St George Park and Avonview Cemetery). Interrupting wildlife in this green corridor seems to sit completely at odds with Bristol's ambition to nurture nature.”

In a supporting letter to the council, Global's agents Turnkey said advertisements would not contain any movement, animation or special effects.

Global records indicate the site has been in advertising use for at least ten years and so it is a longstanding and established part of the built environment. The illuminated digital display would face towards on-coming traffic travelling along the A420, Church Road. The highway is well-lit and level, providing excellent forward visibility on approach to the site, allowing drivers to glance at any advert far in advance without being distracted from the road ahead.  

Under these circumstances such a familiar urban feature would not constitute a potentially hazardous distraction to anyone exercising a reasonable standard of care. Consequently, it is considered that the proposed advertisement would not unduly distract highways users and give rise to safety issues.”

Grenville Johnson, chair and founder of St George in Bloom, said: “Several years ago, volunteers worked extremely hard to enhance this site with a pollinator-friendly planting scheme. Some species of bees and butterflies are currently facing the threat of serious decline, or of possible extinction. These hard-working insects also pollinate crops that in turn supply our food.

An electronic sign will potentially be a huge visual distraction at this site for drivers of vehicles and, if the planning application is approved, the installation works will possibly disrupt the plants and other features at this site that have now become very well established.”

Anyone wishing to comment on the plans can do so on the planning section of Bristol City Council's website.