Walking up Deptford High Street on Saturday I chanced upon a LB Lewisham conservation area planning notice tied to a lampost near the junction with Giffin Street. The notice relates to advertising consent for the vinyl advert on the phonebox that is currently behind the metal fences surrounding Giffin Square. Such advertisements have been an irritation since they first appeared, but despite government proposals years ago to regulate them it was not until late last year that the rules were changed and BT now need consent for them in conservation areas.
The following day I took a closer look at the phone boxes in the High Street. In the phone box outside 12 Deptford High Street I found the notice (above) for 201 Brockley Road and in the phone box outside 76 Deptford High Street I found the notice for 141 New Cross Road. This means that even if there are notices up in Brockley Road and New Cross Road they do not have the right application numbers. Furthermore by putting the notices inside the phone boxes, behind dirty plastic, they are unlikely to be noticed by passers by. Such notices are normally displayed in the windows or buildings they relate to, or are affixed to nearby lampposts.
The notices were not properly displyed, but then BT's attitude to the planning system became even clearer when I started looking at the planning applications on the Lewisham website. In relation to Brockley Road, New Cross Road and Deptford High Street BT had removed adverts before photographing telephone boxes (see BT photo of o/s 12 Deptford High Street above) and then falsified the application forms (below) by denying that advertisements were already in place.
Of the applications I have looked at so far, only the one relating to the phonebox opposite 115 Deptford High Street admits to being retrospective, presumeably because BT could not get to it to remove the advertisement.
There are fewer telephone boxes in the High Street than there were 10 years ago, but there are still far more than there were 25 years ago. Fewer people use public telephones now than in years gone by. It must be asked whether they perform any real telecommunications function or whether their primary purpose is as advertising hoardings. Such grotty vinyl adverts neither enhance nor improve the Deptford High Street, or any other, conservation area.
The closing date for objections is supposed to be tomorrow, 19th April, but given the failure to properly advertise the applications I cannot see LB Lewisham hurrying to decide them. Objections can be made to email@example.com , the planner dealing with the application is Diane Verona.
The reference numbers for the Deptford High Street applications are: outside 12: DC/12/79784/X outside 53: DC/12/79787/X outside 76: DC/12/79789/X opposite 115: DC/12/79782/X outside 195: DC/12/79779/X outside 218-220 DC/12/79793/X
141 New Cross Road: DC/12/79794 201 Brockley Road: DC/12/79795