This comment is part reprise and part update and an opportunity to thank all those once again who are supporting as us and those who have come on board recently so that we now exceed 300 in number.
This campaign began almost as soon as the JC Decaux LED advertising sites appeared outside Rosslyn Park FC in November of last year.
CARPA contended and continues to contend that given the level of shock that their appearance generated amongst local residents the original planning consultation process was woefully lacking.
The application for the illuminated sites was of course (cleverly) buried within a broader planning application for Rosslyn Park. The visuals that were produced in the Rosslyn Park Statement of Community Involvement during the planning process were entirely misleading.
Interestingly at no point was a scale model or accurate computer mock-up requested by the Wandsworth Borough Council Planning Department – or any of the Councillors who sat on the Planning Committee – we can only conject as to why.
The Council have advised that they had consulted numbers 82 to 129 Woking Close; various properties in Roehampton Lane including numbers 1 to 31; various properties in Upper Richmond Road; facing properties that fall within the London Borough of Richmond.
If anyone who has signed this petition lives within these address parameters, we would be interested to have confirmation that you were aware of the application.
CARPA knows personally of two homeowners within that section of Roehampton Lane who have no recollection of receiving correspondence. A number of properties are rented out within the area and so not owner occupied one can assume that any literature from WBC would have been given scant attention.
Objection letters raising compelling environmental arguments were received from The Putney Society and The Friends of Barnes Common. The developers of Hampton Row (to whom the Council sold the site adjacent site – formerly the garages of Woking Close – with planning permission in place for the new development in October 2013) also objected – as did the London Borough of Richmond. One homeowner objected as follows:
The LED displays will be seen through our front windows causing major issues to the amenity value of our property. We reject this proposal outright.
All to no avail.
CARPA has seen the letters and we have them on file – we have also seen the letters of ‘overwhelming public support’ mentioned by Wandsworth Borough Council and Rosslyn Park.
All 84 letters of support were written by Rosslyn Park members (including an ex- Chairman and the current Vice Chairman of the Club). Postcodes SW15, SW14 and SW13 accounted for 50% of those – the remaining postcodes were SW4, SW6, SW11, SW12, SW17, SW18, SW19, SW20, SL8, KT2, KT5, KT6, KT17, TW10, PE9, RG41, Thames Ditton, W3, W4, W12, UB8, N6.
The membership of Rosslyn Park is 3.000 we believe – at no stage did the Club ask that membership to contribute in any way to any funding and even though 70% of the membership partaking in an in house survey said they were not against a modest increase in their subscription.
The Roehampton Club is Rosslyn Park’s landlord and the Chair did write a statement as follows last year:
“Several of you have been in touch this week to complain about the new electronic advertising hoardings at Rosslyn Park, alongside Upper Richmond Road. I agree, they’re not objects of beauty. We’re Rosslyn Park’s landlord and we’re aware of the opposition they’ve caused. The Board was shown an artist’s impression in June 2014 before the application went to Planning. They appeared benign enough and we gave our consent. But even allowing for creative license the drawing does not bear much resemblance to the real thing. We’ve checked, though, and the displays do conform in every detail with the planning specification, including making them look like rugby posts, and Rosslyn Park obtained all the necessary permissions in October 2014 after consultation with local residents. In short, there is little we can do; we cannot require them to be moved.”
In mid-December of last year, a meeting was arranged for Friday 8th January 2016 at 3.00pm at the Club between CARPA and the Managing Director Mr Marc Newey and the Chairman Mr Chris Blackhurst. The objective of the meeting from CARPA’s perspective was to secure greater clarity with respect to the Roehampton Club’s position, to understand the views of the rest of the board members and on a broader basis the membership. CARPA received an email at 8.00pm on the evening of Thursday 7th with apologies and requesting a postponement to a week later. Given this situation CARPA took the opportunity to immediately request by return in writing confirmation of the Club’s position and we have yet to receive an answer.
We have been in regular touch with various members of the Council and have drawn their attention to the following:
- Rosslyn Park is currently in breach of Condition 4 of the decision notice for 2014/3865 whereby use of the new artificial pitch and spectator stands should not commence until an approved community use agreement was in place. For the moment no such agreement exists.
- The related notice for 2014/4720 states in Condition 1 that within three months a lighting assessment should be carried out “to ensure the approved advertisement display does not result in detrimental impact on visual amenity or highway safety”. Ms Jenny Knox of the Environmental Service Department at Wandsworth Borough Council advised us that the assessment of the impact on visual amenity and highway safety is indeed part of the discharge of conditions process and that this will be undertaken by the Council. She advised that there is no statutory requirement for consultation in this process, as it was already part of the planning application.
CARPA’s view is that one measure the Council could, and surely should, use is public reaction to the installations. Since visual amenity is always going to be subjective then it must be correct to consider the opinions of many subjects by using an appropriate means to gather such information. This is not the same as consultation – it is using a measure in the same way that one would count traffic accidents.
At the time of writing this 322 people have now sought out and signed our petition. Almost all the comments are about visual amenity, with many also including deep concern over the ecological impact of the advertising. The sites have been described as shocking, detrimental, eyesores, vulgar, junk mail, dreadful, inappropriate, invasive, out of keeping, degrading, urban nightmare – the list is endless. The latest comment calls for a complete boycott of Rosslyn Park and suggests that the Club should be relocated entirely. Since the likelihood of anyone even knowing of our petition is still comparatively small, we can assume that the number of people who hold such an opinion is probably in the thousands.
We have suggested to the Council, therefore, that the screens have already shown a massive detrimental impact on visual amenity as judged by local residents, and therefore that the Council needs to take action. We have asked Ms Knox what she intends to do – and have yet to receive an answer.
To this end also we have instructed a solicitor – Ms Adrienne Copithorne – to write to the Council in support of this request.
Ms Copithorne is also trying to assess whether we have solid ground to request an “out of time” judicial review – the ground would have to be very solid indeed as this route could prove costly and potentially very lengthy.
Other points we have raised with the Council are that Condition 5 for 2014/4720 states that the signs should not be illuminated between 11pm and 6am yet we notice that during these hours the words “J C Decaux” along with digital clocks remain lit. We have suggested that this is still advertising, but on a smaller scale and so must require a separate consent or be switched off? And finally what kind of landscaping scheme is going to be implemented to compensate for the brutal damage and destruction that has been perpetrated.
Our campaign also involves writing to the advertisers regularly – in fact daily – to make them aware of the controversy surrounding the sites and respectfully asking them to withdraw their support. As the number of comments on the CARPA petition grows the more compelling the justification becomes.
The advertisers to date have been ASUS, BMW Mini, Dior, Haig, Diageo, Mercedes, Porsche, Shell, Toyota Lexus, TSB and Vauxhall and are currently Cooperative Food, New Scientist, Vauxhall and Swissair.
We are delighted to say that TSB has confirmed that they will ‘steer clear’ of the sites and we have an ongoing dialogue with Dior, BMW Group, New Scientist, Mercedes and Cooperative Food.
A petitioner commented recently:
“Idea: let’s forget about the safety or environmental issues (hard to prove) and just focus on the fact that they’re an unwanted blight on our visual environment.
And let’s contact the advertisers who use the billboards and tell them why this “affluent audience” won’t be buying their products while they advertise on this site. Money talks.”
If the advertising sites cannot generate revenue for Rosslyn Park, then they have no reason to exist so as we continue to move forward CARPA would ask anyone who feels so inclined to write (or tweet) to any advertisers they see using the screens so that they are made very aware of the depth of feeling that these sites are generating.
Thank you all again for your support and please continue to spread the word.