Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Further blots on the landscape ...

As reported in this morning's Courier and tonight's Evening Telegraph, I am of the view that last night’s decision by City Councillors to approve 3 “superfast broadband” cabinets in parts of the West End in conservation areas create an unnecessary blot on the landscape in areas that are historic and should be the subject of heritage protection.

At last night’s City Council Development Management Committee, I proposed that the applicant, BT Openreach, be asked to think again on the design of these large boxes, but my motion to do so was unfortunately defeated 14-10.

The motion read :

"The development is contrary to Policy 61 : Development in Conservation Areas of the Dundee Local Plan Review 2005  as it fails to preserve or enhance the character of the surrounding area by reason ofthe inappropriate size, scale, design and location  of the proposed box.  

For the same reason, it also fails to meet the requirements of Section 64 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997."

I don’t think anyone objects to the provision of superfast Broadband but the question is are the boxes housing the cabling appropriate for Conservation Areas?    The boxes are much larger than the usual utilities box at some 1.6 metres high so they are very noticeable.  There’s been absolutely no attempt by BT Openreach to provide a box that has a heritage style appearance more in keeping with a Conservation Area.

These boxes outwith Conservation Areas do not require planning approval but have already attracted criticism as they are large and ugly - BT Openreach is rolling out these large boxes that they have purchased in China, right across the UK, including at historic and conservation sites.

It is deeply disappointing that BT is not prepared to look at something more acceptable in Conservation Areas.   One of these boxes will go on the edge of Magdalen Green, where the City Council has placed heritage style litter bins, precisely to ensure they look appropriate in the conservation setting.

So I call on BT Openreach to look again at the style of utility box they are using for this project given the significantly larger size these are when compared to usual utility boxes.   A large national company like BT should take account of the appropriateness of its street furniture for the setting they are placed in and these big ugly boxes should not be sitting in the city’s Conservation Areas.   There are alternative styles that are more appropriate and I call on the company to consider these.