Dundee City Council has lost another battle against the installation of what it describes as “imposing” digital street adverts.
The Scottish Government has overruled the local authority after it rejected BT’s plan to replace phone boxes with two “street hubs” outside Primark.
It means the plan can now go ahead and comes after BT also won an appeal for permission to install hubs nearby on another location on the High Street.
Council officers had rejected the plans after claiming the “imposing and incongruous” adverts were out of character for the popular pedestrianised zone.
But a total of six phone boxes will now be removed and four hubs, featuring 75 inch digital advertising screens, Wi-Fi, charging points, free calls and public information, will be installed.
The council also objected that the illuminated adverts would add “clutter” to the area.
Local officers also raised a need to preserve the character of the surrounding listed buildings.
But Philip Mclean, of the Scottish Government’s environmental and appeals division wrote: “No specific listed buildings have been brought to my attention as being adversely impacted.”
Mr Mclean also disagreed that the bright adverts would have an adverse effect on other amenities because the pedestrianised area is already a retail hub.
Council officers additionally pushed objections regarding public safety, but Mr Mclean responded by pointing out pedestrian access would not be affected, or passing drivers distracted.
He said: “I am satisfied that the proposed advertisements would not interfere with the interpretation of any traffic signs or signals.
“Given the width of the pavement in the area around the site, and its location between two street trees, I am satisfied the proposal would not impede pedestrian movement or act as a barrier to pedestrians.
“Overall, I conclude there would be no impact on public safety.”
The Scottish Government agency’s decisions come after it was revealed many more planning decisions are overturned in Dundee than the Scottish average.
A total of 62% — or eight of 13 — rejected applications that went to appeal were overruled in 2020-21.
North East Conservative MSP Maurice Golden described the news as “ridiculous” and said the Scottish Government’s readiness to overrule local decisions is “troubling”.