Not for long

In deciding an appeal against the refusal of advertisement consent for a 10m by 11m advertisement on a scaffolding shroud in a central London conservation area, an inspector decided that they were now part of the urban scene (DCS Number 400-017-787).

The shroud would display a 1-1 replica image of the host building, and from time to time an area of 11m by 10m would be used for advertisements.

Interestingly, the inspector ruled that the temporary nature of the proposal was fundamental to the decision-making process, rather than simply a factor to be weighed in the balance. Because of the absence of permanence, he reasoned, the judgement was not one that had a bearing on the effect on the significance of the conservation area. Rather, he held, it was one of a straightforward comparison between the impact on visual amenity of, on the one hand the scaffold and netting needed for the building operations, and on the other the shroud and its building façade image and a much smaller area for information and advertisements. He endorsed the opinion of a colleague inspector that shroud and wrap advertisements are now generally accepted as temporary features in a busy urban street scene, provide colour and interest, ‘announce’ that a redevelopment is being undertaken to the long term benefit of the street scene, and that provided they do not overwhelm their surroundings, ‘as a short-term measure to cover scaffolding many proposals would seem to offer only a benefit to the character and appearance of the surrounding area’.

The inspector concluded that the proposal would enhance the visual amenity of the conservation area compared to the alternative of leaving the scaffolding and debris mesh unaltered during building works. He is no doubt right on that point but what do readers think about his reasoning with regard to the temporary or permanent nature of advertisements? We have to confess we are a little unnerved here.

More on scaffold shrouds can be found in section 30.0342 of DCP Online.

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