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In March, London-based advertising agency Build Hollywood, trading as Jack Arts Scotland, applied to install a 6.2m-by-1.6m billboard under a bridge on Southfield Place.
Despite the billboard’s innocuous location along a graffiti-strewn bridge wall, the proposals have attracted more than sixty objections from local residents, who raised concerns about the visual impact of the billboard on their conservation area.
Sue Hurford, of Brighton Crescent East, wrote in her objection: “I strongly object to the proposal for an advertising hoarding on Southfield Place.
“It would be completely out of keeping with the existing character on the approach to the conservation area.
“Furthermore, at what is already a spot where driver attention is especially necessary, it would be a potentially dangerous distraction, both for car drivers and cyclists.
“As the application shows, the hoarding would be right by a pinch point in the road, affecting safety.”
Douglas Milne, of Sandford Gardens, wrote: “As you enter the tunnel in Southfield Place, you see a ‘Welcome to Portobello’ sign.
“The proposal is to have tacky advertising hoardings on the opposite side.
“A small fortune had been spent renewing the setts leading into a conservation area. This would destroy the aesthetic look and defeat the purpose of an impressive entrance into Portobello.”
Alyssa Newman wrote: “I live on Southfield place. This sounds like a dangerous distraction for motorists.
“I fear for my wee boy’s safety living in this area.
“This is my home area and I strongly object to this notion. Please listen to the people who live in this area and do not put this signage up.”
In April Edinburgh City Council planning officers rejected the proposals, citing the 62 objections and the impact on residential amenity.
The council’s decision notice reads: “The standalone proposal constitutes an unacceptable commercial introduction into a predominantly residential area and it will have a detrimental on amenity by virtue of its scale, appearance and siting on a key thoroughfare having regard to the general characteristics of the locality.”
Now however, Build Hollywood has appealed the decision to the Scottish Government’s planning and environmental appeals department (DPEA).
An appeal statement, submitted on behalf of the developers by Glasgow-based Paton Planning and Development, reads: “We contend that the application site is within a tunnel of some length, and is not therefore located in a residential, historic, or architecturally interesting area.
“Location of the proposed display within the tunnel results in the posters not being viewed against a background of residential, historic, or architecturally interesting properties – its surroundings are only the dark and unattractive tunnel walls.
“The presence of the posters in the tunnel would neither detract from the amenity of a residential locality, nor detract from an area of significant historic and architectural interest.”
They also argued that the council “has approved other displays, many of which are in or nearby residential areas.”
A DPEA reporter, acting on behalf of Scottish Ministers, is expected to make a decision by October 2021.