A company called Maxx Media Ltd is hoping to install a double-sided LED digital screen in Broad Street similar to the one at the train station forecourt.
The screen would have an elongated rectangle shape and be located opposite the Marks & Spencers, immediately next to town centre seating.
Justifying the installation project, Maxx Media’s planning agents ECE Planning argued that the company has already successfully operated several digital screens in towns and cities in the UK, including the one at the train station forecourt.
An ECE Planning agent said: “The business operates in a way that helps to support small local businesses, charities and services by providing free or affordable advertising alongside their commercial advertising activities.
“It is therefore considered that there are significant public and economic benefits from the proposed screen and the screen represents a clear imaginative use of the pedestrianised public realm.”
But the installation of the new screen is in doubt as the plan has received objections from important stakeholders.
REDA, Reading’s Economy &Destination Agency which represents businesses in the town centre has objected to the proposal in consultation with its members.
Andy Briggs, the manager of The Oracle and committee chair of the Reading Central Business Improvement District (BID) argued the screen would ‘spoil the wide vista’ of Broad Street, and that the town centre is already ‘cluttered’ with lamp posts and digital screens.
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Marks & Spencer and the MINISO variety store have also expressed fears the screen would block the view of their stores.
Thames Valley Police has also objected as glare coming from the screen could affect CCTV cameras.
In a letter to Reading Borough Council’s planning department, inspector James Tribe explained: “The glare caused by these screens creates problems for our CCTV cameras, in that the brightness of the screen creates colour contrasting, darkening and softening of the images, reducing visibility and our ability to identify and monitor individuals.”
You can view the application by typing reference 231423 into the council’s planning portal.
The clash over Maxx Media’s digital screen plan comes as digital screens in Broad Street were covered by anti-consumerist messaging on Black Friday.
Three screens were covered during the afternoon on November 24 by activists who support the Adfree Cities campaign, which is pushing for advertising space to be ‘reclaimed’ as space for art and other public initiatives.
The anti-consumerist messaging was taken down without incident.