Three of the UK’s outdoor advertising companies have become embroiled in a bitter dispute with Lambeth council after the London borough deemed 500 of their billboards to be illegal.
The row escalated last weekend when Lambeth’s executive councillor for planning, Andrew Sawdon, put stickers across billboards, condemning them as unauthorised. He then ordered 12 boards belonging to JC Decaux and Clear Channel to be torn down last Saturday. Maiden Outdoor’s billboards were only saved by an injunction on Friday night.
Sawdon, who claims to have the backing of English Heritage, says the initiative has been introduced because many of the billboards do not have proper planning permission and the sites should be redeveloped for housing: “I am determined to battle these cases to the end. I consider it an environmental crime,” he says.
Maiden claims it has full planning permission for its sites which date back to the Fifties. Clear Channel says it believes its billboards are legal and is taking legal steps to prevent any more being torn down. JC Decaux refuses to comment.
Lambeth is not the only London council taking a hard line on billboards. Both Camden and Brent councils are understood to be considering similar steps.