More than 100 residents object to ‘recklessly unsafe’ plans for digital billboard near The Arches

Residents are concerned the ‘flashy TV screen’ could lead to a fatal accident

More than 100 residents have objected to plans to install a digital advertising screen near The Arches at the bottom of Gloucester Road, branding the move ‘recklessly unsafe’ and ‘shameful’.

Network Rail want to upgrade an existing advertising billboard on Cheltenham Road, close to the Severn Beach railway bridge in Montpelier, submitting a planning application to Bristol City Council earlier this month.

The firm say that the plans form part of a project to rationalise and bring Network Rail’s stock of poster and paste billboards into the 21st century.

But residents have since lodged more than 100 objections to the proposals, their primary concern being that the illuminated sign will distract drivers and cause accidents.

The junction is a busy area sporting pubs, shops and restaurants, along with a number of schools and childcare facilities nearby.

Leading a campaign against the new sign, Adfree Cities claimed that it would result in 3,153,600 more advertisements at the site per year.

Responding to the planning application, Olly Allcock, who lives on Cromwell Road, said that the risks of driver distraction at the site were ‘high’, adding that using electricity unnecessarily during the climate crisis was ‘shameful’.

“Many pedestrians use this area of Gloucester Road/Cheltenham Road; there is a school nearby and a number of others not far away such as Cotham and Cotham Gardens,” they said. “Ditto nursery and childminding facilities in the neighbourhood.

“In other words, many children of different ages, including pre-school aged children walk past this advertising space.”

Jon Dent, who lives on York Road, said: “A primary goal of an advertisement is to attract attention.

“It is therefore recklessly unsafe to place large, frequently-changing ads by a busy and complex road junction.

An image of what the sign, at the Cheltenham Road junction, could look like once installed.

“Should the application succeed, responsibility for any (possibly fatal) accidents caused by these ads distracting the attention of road users and pedestrians will lie firmly with the planning authority and should rest heavily on the consciences of each and every individual member who supports it.”

Anna Lambert said the screen was ‘intrusive and ugly’ and would make the Cheltenham Road junction ‘more dangerous’.

“I live on Station Road and use this junction on my bike almost every day,” she said.

“It’s a very complicated junction as it is, and the motorists don’t need any distraction provided by a flashy ginormous TV screen.”

In a supporting statement Owen Pike, associate partner in planning at Sanderson Weatherall, said steps had been taken to assess if the location for the sign was appropriate and if level of illumination or change between adverts would be controlled to prevent distraction from driving.

He added: “Consideration has been provided to the sign’s siting to ensure it will not impact upon the safe operation of the highway network or impact upon pedestrian movements.

“As the principle of an advertisement has already been established at this location, the Council must only consider whether there is any additional distraction arising from the proposed digital sign which would cause an unacceptable impact on highway safety.”