Oppose a Chadderton Digital Billboard Badvert

So here is a real live example of how advertising companies really seem to want to put a glowing screen on every available surface to convince you to buy more stuff you don’t need.


Adfree Cities Manchester, which just started up this month has found this planning application from Oldham Council and provided a bit of guidance on what to do, but as we know planning processes are not straight forward and easily accessible to the average citizen.


We thought we’d share what we did if others want to learn or feel inspired to do something similar.


There are currently two public comments opposing this application and the deadline for this is 28th November. However, I believe from talking to a friend who is a town planner that they will continue to receive comments beyond that deadline until it goes to the planning committee.


We sent the following to planning@oldham.gov.uk with the subject: ADV/351813/23 and our name and address at the end (you don’t need to be an Oldham resident to respond, but it does help if you are and you do need to prove you are a human who lives somewhere in the UK).


Dear Oldham Planning Team,


I’m writing to you to strongly oppose the planning application ADV/351813/23 for a digital advertising screen at the proposed location replacing an existing paper and paste billboard as a concerned member of the public.


This application should be rejected for many reasons. Firstly there is an emerging trend in academic literature (1) suggesting that these digital screens are more dangerous and distracting to road users than the traditional paper billboards. Reasons for this include rapidly changing adverts of different luminances drawing the attention of drivers away from the road. Billboards have been recorded with moving images in breach of planning conditions, which undermines any arguments that these operators can be trusted to self-regulate.


The junction where this proposed digital billboard is situated has seen 7 vehicle accidents in the last 5 years alone, with 11 casualties, 2 of them serious (2), which can be seen from the screen shot of crashmap below. This is further evidence of why a digital billboard at this location would be increasing the risk of serious harm and injury to the general public whether they be motorists, cyclists or pedestrians. Evidence shows that nearly 40% of car accidents in the UK occur because the “driver/rider failed to look properly” (3), the presence of digital billboards clearly poses a threat to road users. Particularly vulnerable members of the public would be worshippers of St Hubert’s Catholic Church and users of the Parish Centre as well as staff and pupils of the nearby St Herbert’s RC Primary School who use the junction to cross.


The proposed digital billboard will also have a significant adverse effect on visual amenity to the local area creating light pollution at all times of the day and night, particularly impacting residents less than 50 metres away on Andrew Street & Wellington Street especially to the rear of the properties as well as worshippers of St. Herbert’s Catholic Church and users of the adjacent Parish Centre.


Lastly we cannot ignore the significant amount of energy consumed and the consequent CO2 emissions from the operation of digital billboards. Oldham Council declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and CO2 emissions across the borough have not fallen in line with the recommended scientific evidence. A digital billboard has been shown by Adfree Cities to use around 11 households worth of electricity with typical use. The planning consultants are greenwashing this planning application by calling a digital billboard ‘energy efficient’. They provide no evidence to compare the energy use of the current paper and paste billboard with a digital billboard and this planning application will undermine the Councils strategies to reduce energy and CO2 emissions in the borough.


Rejecting this planning application is a tangible step Oldham Council can take using existing powers in response to the climate emergency.


  1. Oviedo-Trespalacios et al., 2019, The impact of road advertising signs on driver behaviour and implications for road safety: A critical systematic review, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tra.2019.01.012
  2. https://www.crashmap.co.uk/Search
  3. https://www.nimblefins.co.uk/top-causes-car-accidents-uk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.