Inspector Upholds Decision to Block Telephone Kiosks

Plans would have added to street clutter in Putney and Wandsworth

image: Maximus Networks Ltd website

The council say their decision to block proposals for four telephone kiosks on pavements in Putney and Wandsworth has been vindicated after a Government planning inspector rejected attempts by the phone company to have the decisions overturned.

Last December the planning committee rejected plans by Maximus Networks Ltd to install kiosks in West Hill, Putney Hill, the Upper Richmond Road and Garratt Lane on the grounds that they would be obtrusive, unattractive and unnecessary street clutter.

Those four decisions were all the subject of appeals by the company which prompted a public inquiry headed by a Government planning inspector.

But after hearing evidence from both sides and conducting his own site visit to assess each location, the inspector dismissed all four appeals.

In his written judgement he concluded that the proposed kiosk location outside 130 West Hill “would appear as an out of place structure intruding into an open area of pavement and the leafy residential character of the local area, making it visually intrusive and harmful.”

The second appeal related to a kiosk proposed at the corner of Putney Hill and Chartfield Avenue. The inspector’s verdict was that “the addition of a significantly sized new item of street furniture here would add to the existing visual clutter, harming the appearance of the street scene.”

The third appeal involved a kiosk at 149 Upper Richmond Road. The inspector wrote that this was “a much busier and more commercial location next to a taxi drop off/pick up zone and near to a bus stop” and a kiosk here would not only be “harmful” to the street scene but its “design would not be co-ordinated with any nearby street furniture and the scale would be large in relation to the area of pavement available”.

In his view allowing this kiosk to be sited here “would set up a conflict between call box users, taxi users and other pedestrians, impeding pedestrian flows and making it more likely that people would step out into the street” which “would therefore prejudice the convenience of pedestrians and the safety of highway users.”

In the case of the kiosk at 43 Garratt Lane, which would have stood next to or close to an existing public telephone booth, the “apparent close interposition and lack of alignment of the two kiosks would create a cramped, cluttered appearance that would be out of keeping with the more spacious character of this part of Garratt Lane”.

The inspector added: “I conclude that the siting and appearance of all four proposals would unacceptably harm the character and appearance of their local areas.”

The council’s head of planning Nick Calder said: “We’re obviously pleased that the inspector, who examined all the evidence before reaching an independent verdict, has dismissed all four of these appeals.

“The locations proposed by this telecoms company were inappropriate and ill-judged and as the inspector pointed out would have caused unacceptable harm to the character and appearance of their surroundings.”

Maximus Networks Ltd have been asked for their response to the decision.

December 2, 2019