Published on Sunday, 23rd July 2017


One of my pet peeves is the huge number of phone boxes that litter the city centre. Near universal mobile phone ownership means very few calls are made from any of them and yet their numbers are rising. The reason for this apparent contradiction is that the law allows them to be installed without the need to pay any fee. That made sense back when public phones were widely used and when the cost of putting in a box was sufficiently high that unnecessary ones were not installed. Now though it just allows companies to put in phones in busy areas and then to cover them with lucrative advertising boards, which is what this is really all about.


A recent batch of applications for six new boxes looked like it was going to succeed; I had a story in the News saying as much. However on this occasion there is a happy ending. While planning consent is not needed for new boxes, the council's Planning Service has to be consulted and can stop new installations under some narrow circumstances. The boxes proposed for Commercial Road have been successfully rejected on the grounds of pedestrian safety and because they would undermine the public realm improvements the council has recently carried out. A box planned for near the station will however still proceed.


Tags: City Centre