Friday 30 May 2008

Fight the height - and the LED screen!

URGENT! Take a look at the new Planning Committee agenda (available at the Town Hall or larger local libraries). On Tuesday (3 June) the Committee will be asked to approve the installation of a giant outdoor LED screen on the grassy area by the Town Square. This area, which on dry sunny days is very popular, is going to be wrecked. It also happens to be a designated park.

I was under the hazy impression that this screen was just a temporary feature, designed to show the 2012 Olympics. Not so. What is proposed is a massive PERMANENT structure, which will be blaring out sound and vision from 7am to 11 pm, EVERY DAY. The screen will be around 23 feet wide and10 feet high, supported by two giant columns 24 feet high.

The content of this unending sixteen hours a day broadcast is very vague (‘national and international events’). But guess what! ‘There may be general advertising during major events’. You bet there will. And what’s more this hideous device may well broadcast after 11 pm (‘it would not be used beyond 23.00 without special permission’ – permission which will doubtless be forthcoming). Feed will be supplied by the BBC, so expect trailers for telly programmes.

Needless to say this hideous proposal is sugared with meaningless claptrap about ‘regeneration’, ‘environmental sustainability’, ‘a wider local arts and culture programme’ and ‘increased pedestrian activity’. As this crap Council is not seriously interested in any of these things, the question is: why are they doing it? Presumably because it is income generating. How much lolly will the Council rake in from programme makers and advertisers? Lots, I guess. In return local people will have their local parkland ruined by a monstrous eyesore. And every day will be like Orwell's 1984, with a giant screen booming messages for the masses.

The consultation for this devastating proposal has been grossly inadequate. The screen will face north and will be broadcasting from land higher than the Square. A handful of properties on Selborne Road and the High Street (about 25 homes in all) have been notified and invited to comment. Yet this proposal will affect hundreds of homes in the surrounding area. Noise is a major issue, for a public screen broadcasting sound across the Town Square. It will directly affect residents who live on Tower Mews, Westbury Road and Cleveland Park Avenue, but not a single property on these streets has been consulted. Sound from the Town Square carries over a wide area, depending on weather and wind conditions. These broadcasts will be heard on Hatherley Road and possibly beyond. They will affect those hundreds of residents who live on high ground to the east of Hoe Street, probably as far as Howard Road and Pembroke Road. Few of these residents are going to understand what's hit them when what sounds like a noisy neighbour with a permanently-on telly hits their neighbourhood from 7am to 11pm each day.

The grossly inadequare consultation - doubtless designed to muffle the possibilty of opposition before the LED screen is rushed through -has received 39 objections, including ones from Waltham Forest Civic Society and Cleveland Park Residents Association. You have until Tuesday to make your own objections known to the relevant Councillors. You can also turn up on the night. The Planning Committee meets at the Town Hall on Forest Road at 7.30pm on 3 June. The Chair of the Committee is Cllr M. Ahmad, the Vice-Chair is Cllr Bob Wheatley, the other members are Councillors M Asghar, M. Broadley, R A Carey, M T Davis, M. Martin, N. Penstone and A. Siggers.