One large black kiosk with digital advertising was installed two years ago in front of Carluccio’s, despite complaints.
And an existing phone box outside the KFC outlet at 135 High Street is also to be converted to a “pay phone communication hub” with an illuminated advertising panel.
Applications for three more High Street pay phone communication hubs were made on September 3 by Infocus Public Networks Ltd of Brentford.
One was to be sited outside the Red Lion public house; another in front of High Barnet Dental Care at 59 High Street, close to the junction with Church Passage footpath; and a third in front of Hamilton Chase, at 141 High Street.
If approved this would have meant there would have been a total of five of these large kiosks with display advertising panels along several hundred yards of the High Street, from the junction with Fitzjohn Avenue to the junction with St Albans Road.
...a detrimental impact on the surrounding highways...
The applications attracted numerous objections from residents, most of whom complained that these kiosks would clutter up the High Street just as the pavements were being widened to make it easier for shoppers.
The other major criticism was that there was no need for so many pay phones along the High Street and that the proposed communication hubs were simply an excuse for installing highly profitable illuminated advertising display panels.
All three applications were refused on October 29 on the grounds that the “overall size, scale, siting and design including a large illuminated advertising panel” would represent an excessively prominent feature of the street scene.
New kiosks outside the Red Lion and at the entrance to Church Passage would damage to the “character and appearance” of the Wood Street conservation area.
All three proposed kiosks would also have had a “detrimental impact on the surrounding highways and potentially cause a visual obstruction or distraction, potentially causing harm to both drivers and pedestrians”.
Another of the residents’ objections was that more kiosks were not required as most shoppers and passers-by have mobile phones and that there was a danger that street pay phones could be used by drug dealers who stand nearby ready to take calls.
In response to these fears, InLinkUK and BT say they have introduced new automatic call blocking features designed to prevent misuse of the free calls service provided to the public.
The council’s refusal notice disputed these assurances and said the proposed communication hubs failed to adequately reduce the opportunities for criminal and anti-social behaviour and would fail to contribute to “a sense of security for users and the wider community”.