Broadmead BID slams telecoms giant, BT over planning application for site outside Debenhams store

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Businesses say approving the plans would undo 20 years of work to improve the centre’s shopping experience

A planning application for the street space outside the former Debenhams store in Bristol’s city centre has been labelled ‘an annoyance’ by nearby businesses. The application was made on behalf of telecoms giant, BT and proposes installing a Streethub unit with two LCD screens on either side to advertise to passersby.

The Streethub provides a free digital service to shoppers by offering wi-fi, phone calls to UK landline and mobile phones, council services via its touchscreen tablet, and device charging free of charge. So far, the application has received nine objections.

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One of which was made by the Broadmead BID, a group of local businesses that pay into a joint kitty which is then used to improve and benefit all members. The BID objects that the street hub would “significantly detract from the pedestrian and general experience” in the Broadmead - calling for the Development Committee to reject the plans.

It said: “ As Broadmead BID we have worked hard for over 20 years to make Broadmead an attractive place to work and visit and an element of this work includes working with the council and retailers to reduce street clutter and improve the pedestrian experience in an area of high footfall. We believe that the huge number of advertising units and telephone boxes significantly detract from the pedestrian and general experience of the public realm in Broadmead without any benefit to the community.

“It is also worth noting that the units generate noise (from the fans), use significant amounts of energy, and have been known to advertise Broadmead’s main rival, Cribbs Causeway, much to the annoyance of retailers in Broadmead. We also note the risk of crime as advised recently by the Crime Prevention Adviser, having struggled with crime and anti-social behaviour in the Broadmead area in recent years, we would not be in favour of something that may increase levels of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“We ask the Development Committee to reject the application for this Street Hub and for Bristol City Council to work with the local community, including Bristol’s BIDs to significantly reduce the number of advertising units and phone boxes in Bristol City Centre. If this hub is given permission we ask that the phonebox next to Firewood Grill is also removed as part of the deal.”

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BT has been approached for comment.

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