How TFL has its priorities all wrong

Sun in sandsAnyone living near the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout take note: Transport for London wants to transform the road junction into  a site for “LED Media displays” featuring  a” digital display… of static adverts which will change sequentially no less than every ten seconds”.

In other words, TFL want to put illuminated screens on the bridges facing north and south, 3m high and 12m wide, showing ads to drivers on the A2/A102 motorway that passes underneath, with different images flashing up six times a minute. (May 18th update – GOOD NEWS: the Royal Borough of Greenwich has refused TFL’s planning application, although they could yet appeal against this refusal.)

In support of the application, TFL points to a similar installation at the Euston Road underpass, shown below:

Euston Road underpass (2)

But the Sun in Sands roundabout is not like the Euston Underpass, as the application documents claim; the bridges on which the advertisements will be displayed are prominent and on the edge of two conservation areas. The signage will be very close to homes around the roundabout –  including two blocks of flats on Shooter’s Hill Road and the houses on Langton Way pictured above – and could cause light pollution and disturbance, as well as being a road safety hazard. The Blackheath Society is opposing the application and as a local Labour councillor for the western side of the roundabout, I am urging that if a better location is not found, TFL abandons the plan.

Even if an application for digital displays is approved, why can’t the income go towards better fencing along the A102 nearby, to shield residents of Siebert Road, Invicta Road and Westcombe Hill from noise and vibration from the motorway which runs just feet away from their homes. Residents have been requesting this for years and TFL have always refused to consider putting new fences up (interest declared: my partner used to live in one of the affected houses on Westcombe Hill, but she is only one of many, many people who have complained about the lack of fencing).

Other nearby residents have asked for more action to control speeding on Shooter’s Hill Road – the first part of the A2 on its way from Dover that is not a Motorway, and where the 30mph speed limit is often ignored. TFL seems to be more interested in putting up advertising than in mitigating the impact of the A2 and A102, which both plough through the residential neighbours of Kidbrooke, Blackheath and Charlton.

The irony of this is that TFL have actually done a good job recently in planting new flowerbeds, both alongside the walkways at the Sun in the Sands roundabout, and on the roundabout at the junction of Shooter’s  Hill Road (A2) and Prince Charles Road, which looks better than it has done for years.

IMG00265-20130406-1659 (2)

But TFL, desperate to raise revenue now that Boris Johnson has reduced the congestion charge in size, and squandered millions of pounds on withdrawing bendy Buses and putting new “Routemaster” style buses on the roads, is obsessed by getting advertising up everywhere. Last year, Greenwich Council turned down an application for four advertising hoardings, 1.2m wide and 80cm high, on the roundabout in the middle of the Heath, which would have spoilt the appearance of the new flowerbeds there.

Roundabout Sponsorship schemes may make sense in some places, but the idea of putting permanent signage in the middle of the Heath was unworkable. Why have TFL now moved their attention to the Sun in the Sands roundabout, and why are they continuing to ignore the one thing local people are demanding – a simple fence alongside the A102 to shield residents from noise and vibration? I am continuing to press TFL to put residents before advertising revenue, and I hope they will have a change of heart.

SEPTEMBER 2013 UPDATE: Transport for London has lodged an appeal against the refusal of planning permission for the signs at the Sun-in-the-Sands. You can read a further update here.

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8 Responses to How TFL has its priorities all wrong

  1. Len says:

    Surely the only outcome of this crazy idea is to create more chaos. As a driver my eyes need to be concentrating on the car in front rather than an advert telling me who I can claim from, if I have an accident. (possibly caused by this sign)

  2. I say says:

    commercial signage should be restricted to commercial districts

  3. DT says:

    I don’t see the issue with this, there are hundreds of adverts in this country. Also, if drivers can’t handle a little eye distraction then I think they should be banned off the roads. I agree with the fencing idea!

  4. Annonymous says:

    Oh just what we need, big flashing signs to distract the eye of drivers already going to fast and/or following too closely.

  5. Pingback: TFL puts advertising income ahead of protecting A102 neighbours from noise and pollution | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  6. Pingback: TFL take seven weeks and counting to fix a broken bridge | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  7. Pingback: TFL’s Sun-in-the-Sands adverts given the go-ahead | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

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