Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9: big ugly billboard goes up. Is it legal?

Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9: big ugly billboard goes up

I always thought that planning permission had to be sought before companies could erect large billboards, but there certainly hasn’t been a single notice posted anywhere in the area for this monster thing on Coldharbour Lane.

Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9: big ugly billboard goes up

Erected on what was a piece of publicly accessible grass verge (and latterly an ad hoc car parking space) the billboard looks to be a replacement for the one which formerly straddled the space between the old Texaco garage and the green area outside Southwyck House (by Moorlands Road).

Apparently, that carbuncle had never received planning permission either, but lingered on for several years before finally being pulled down a few years back. Apart from its unsightly appearance, the billboard provided cover for all sorts of nefarious activity, as well as providing a handy public toilet space – right next to where kids play.

Is it legal?

I tried to check with Lambeth’s planning department today, but after being kept on hold for ten minutes gave up. Does anyone know is this thing has got planning permission? Post a comment or send us a message if you know – or you can discuss it on our boards.

If it turns out that the big ugly thing does indeed have no planning permission, than perhaps it might be time to consult this useful guide: Smashing the image factory. A Complete Manual of Billboard Subversion & Destruction.

Related discussion: Would it be illegal to ‘enhance’ any adverts displayed on an illegal billboard?

24 Comments on “Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9: big ugly billboard goes up. Is it legal?”

  1. incredible. i passed that site and saw the men constructing it. i asked what were they making and they replied it was a bilboard. not only is the thing huge it also made me think what happened re planning permission. before the site was fenced off and after the petrol some of the guys used it as a car park and a used car front! why didnt the council give them the site at a small rent until someeone actually bought it…perhaps thats too simple an idea.

    excellent website. top marks.

  2. I’ve done some research. It’s 100% illegal. Complain to

    The way it works is that these guys build a dodgy billboard and because councils usually take so long to get around to getting them taken down, the owners will have already made a pile of money from advertising revenue.

    And that’s got me wondering: would it be illegal to ‘enhance’ the adverts displayed on an illegal board?

  3. Hello all, i have pursued the planners and have raised a ‘enforcement complaint’ with them. They will go to the site and investigate what has happened and whether the feckers have done it the right way… I would suggest that a few voices work better than 1 so perhaps raise your own complaints. I will keep you updated of the process, should take a minimum of 1 week. These photos (above) would be very useful!

    All the best.

  4. If all legal avenues fail I have access to ladders, buckets and brushes…

    I lack an creative bent but those with artisitic (& anarchic) sensibilities are never too far away in Brixton. Let no ad last…

  5. What the fuck has David Cameron or his shitty ‘Big Society’ got to do with this?

    Oh hang on: you seem to have swallowed that Tory bullshit, hook line and sinker.

  6. ‘’The Big Society is about a huge culture change… where people, in their everyday lives, in their homes, in their neighbourhoods, in their workplace… don’t always turn to officials, local authorities or central government for answers to the problems they face… but instead feel both free and powerful enough to help themselves and their own communities.’’ – David Cameron.

    I think that your blog is a fine example of this sort of thing.

    I know that some silly people might regard you as an interfering busy-body with too much time on your hands posting up sanctimonious ‘articles’ like a pompous arse.

    I beg to differ from that inaccurate and uncharitable view.

    Rather, you felt both free and powerful enough to help yourself and your own community. You selflessly took the time and the trouble to take photos, initiate legal research about and post up a right riveting read of a report about a ‘big ugly billboard’ in Cold Harbour Lane.

    I particularly like the style too, especially the faux rebelliousness with the link to ‘smashing the image factory’.

    That tongue in cheek Wolfie Smith nuance is a clever way of retaining ‘street cred’ while grassing on billboarders. After all being a ‘grass with a badge’ like police community support officers isn’t cool, but being a grass with dreadlocks and a right on blog is cool. Very cool, indeed.

    And who can deny that big ugly billboards are indeed a horrendous blight on the community? Along with drugs, gun and gang crime, chronic lack of housing and cuts to crucial services, everybody knows that ‘big ugly billboards’ bring unbearable misery and hardship to Lambeth residents. So, very well done indeed!

    In fact I am very tempted to contact Lambeth Council and send them a link to this admirable blog recommending that you are nominated for a Lambeth Citizenship Award. I’m pretty certain that the Prime Minster would be delighted to support your nomination too.

    You could have it framed and hung on the wall in the Prince Albert! Or even projected onto the ceiling in psychedelic rotating colours at the next Offline!! Imagine that!!!

    Would you mind if I went ahead with that on your behalf?

  7. Anyway, local councillor Steve Bradley has been posting on the urban75 boards with updates about the billboard, and has just added this:

    After much cajoling I’ve finally had a proper answer out of Lambeth’s Enforcement Team on this bilboard. It reads as follows :

    “We have discussed the hoardings with the advertiser who initially claimed deemed consent rights under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisement) Regulations 2007. We disagree with his claim and have explained the council’s case in a meeting with him. We gave him the opportunity to put forward a counter argument but he has failed to do so. Although the advertiser has recently provided more material, we do not consider this sufficient. In light of the above, it is our intention to issue notices threatening the removal of the hoardings”.

    I’m told the council is now working with the Estate Services provider for the land on which the hoarding is located in order to get them to physically remove it. Apparently it’s looking positive so far, but discussions are still ongoing.

    If I get any further updates I’ll post them here. But fingers crossed that the illegal sign’s days are now numbered…..

    I’ll pass this on to the residents association, who I’m sure will be delighted to see the thing go.

    Oh, and John, feel free to contribute more of your singular insights on the bulletin board thread, where I’m sure locals will find you as entertaining as I have. 🙂

  8. Very well done, editor!

    Cold Harbour Lane is a much safer place thanks to your heroic brilliant, clever blog.

    It is heartening to realise that even though this can be a cruel and despondent world there are among us ordinary people who are brave and selfless and have the integrity to fight against tyranny and work to alleviate the suffering of their fellow human beings.

    Thank God for those who campaign on our behalf for justice and struggle tirelessly in the on-going fight for human rights, for an end to hunger, for an end to destroying the world, and, for an end to bug ugly billboards on Cold Harbour Lane.

    Let us salute them: Shami Chakrabarti, Aung San Suu Kyi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Oxfam and, last but not least, oh yes indeed, step forward editor.

    I’m filling up.

  9. Hi, I’m an Englisman living in France since 1982. Since 2005, I’ve been fighting billboards at French town entrances As SW France regional organiser for the association ‘Paysages de France’ …I’ve personally had over 500 illegal boards and signs removed. I’d be interested to know if you’ve managed to have the Colharbour lane boards removed. A group of people in St Werburgh’s in Bristol have had eight 24m² boards removed these past three years . It’s due to the work of the CPRE association (starting in the 1920’s) that the English countryside is not ruined by ugly boards at town entraces as in France.. Keep up the pressure…

  10. “John
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:11 PM
    Good work everybody. This is exactly what the Big Society is all about.

    David Cameron would be so proud of you all.”

    That HAS to be sarcasm.

    Let me down gently if it ain’t. 🙁

  11. Dear editor it is not personnel and its not the tenants fault for the design I think that the block could be replaced with houses and low rise apartments with gardens I have studied your website thoroughly and cannot find one good comment about the barrier block

    1. If the block was flattened it would be replaced by luxury flats for the rich, and its tenants priced out of Brixton. FYI, I LIVE in the Barrier Block and it’s well built and bloody lovely inside – far better than the flimsy crap that’s been built opposite (Brixton Square/Viaduct).

  12. I agree the square/viaduct is ugly but I think looking at it I thought it has yuppie written all over it this cancer is spreading all over Brixton on a drive through Brixton I am having second thoughts about the barrier block social housing is nearly non existent

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