When is a phone box not a phone box? When it's an advertising hoarding.
Two new phone boxes have appeared on Borough High Street near the British School of Osteopathy. I thought that such boxes were barely profitable nowadays and with a BT box nearby couldn't work out why three in such a small space would be needed.
Until that is the large advertising poster appeared on one of them. Not just the custom sized window sticker that BT boxes have, but a standard 4 Sheet Billboard poster. The average rental of one of these is around £1,000 a month (source http://www.signposter.com/pages/find/find-poster-sites.aspx).
I am going to ask Southwark, but I am assuming they get paid a good rental for this? And that it has advertising consent?
I can just about live with this clutter if it allows the council to spend more money on essential services, but if they are only getting a few hundred pounds a year then I think they've been had!
Applications were submitted but had not been not determined at the time of the installation. I see they have now been approved - 10/PA/0030 & 10/PA/0032 - but I'm not sure how much discretion the council has on this sort of application, as it's for 'prior approval' rather than advertising consent or planning permission.
Since I last looked, there have been a number of objections tabled, including by Bankside Residents' Forum and prominent local architect Graham Morrison.
The issue I still want to get to the bottom of is the rental of the land. Southwark is, I'm assuming?, owner of the footbath and therefore would need to rent the land to the phone box siter?
My other issue is that a separate advertising consent doesn't appear to have been applied for. Perhaps it isn't needed but I feel strongly that these are advertising hoardings with a phonebox attached rather than the other way round, ie it's a loophole being exploited.
None of the planning documents appear to show or mention the 4 Sheet on one side.
Southwark Council is unlikely to be getting any benefit from this. The rules relating to installing phone boxes (which are generally used only as advertising hoardings and are often inadequately maintained) are ridiculously slack. They are governed by the Electronic Communications Code: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2003/2553/contents/made - the same rules apply to phone boxes as to street cabinets which contain essential telecommunications equipment.
Essentially, anyone who wants to instal a phone box can, by giving one month's notice to the relevant local authority. They don't need permission, just a lack of objection. Given the amount of work that needs to be done by a council such as Southwark, this is rarely seen as a high priority.
The person who has installed the phone box has a number of obligations under the Code, but these are not always rigorously enforced.
What is really needed is an amendment to the Code, to provide a different rule for phone boxes requiring explicit planning permission, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
The one outside the British School of Osteopathy will soon be decorated with cards offering alternative methods of 'massage' to the BSO and correction lessons by Miss Caine.
Maybe the boxes are sponsored by the oldest profession.
Thanks for the advice Periguno. The only acceptable feature of these hoardings-with-phone for me was that there may be a boost to council income.
I will write to my local councillors and the planning department to inquire further. If these were just phone boxes I wouldn't expect much success but given the design I remain remotely hopeful of at least alerting them to the true nature.