As Westminster’s Head of Planning, Councillor Richard Beddoe is leading a campaign to for greater powers over the installation of phone boxes on our streets. In the last two years, the Council has rejected 170 applications for new telephone kiosks, on the grounds that their real purpose is to obtain high-profile advertising space in busy commercial locations, notably Baker Street and Edgware Road.
The problem is that these rejections are often overturned on Appeal, because Government Planning rules treat phone boxes as ‘Permitted Development’. Commenting on 99 new applications from BT for structures that include advertising screens as well as phones, Councillor Beddoe said, ‘Arcane planning rules have left the Council playing a never-ending game of whack-a-mole with phone-boxes popping up all over the city. We have had some success refusing and removing these monstrosities, but telecoms companies can see an opportunity to make a quick buck, and the applications keep pouring in.’ BT’s response is that they have applied to remove 250 old-style pay-phones.