This note follows a UDL Street Design Meeting held on 20th June 2012 where issues around phone box removal and replacement were discussed. Following the meeting a range of comments has been received and we have drafted this informal note to pull information received together to aid debate.
This note does not provide any legal or other advice and readers are strongly advised to check information and legal opinions themselves.
Ofcom research found that over 33% of adults use Public Call Boxes (PCB) from time to time, while 7% use them regularly. The money that providers received from phone boxes went down by nearly half between 2000 and 2006, and is now likely to be considerably less. BT indicated that 6 out of 10 of their phone boxes lost money during this period. Service providers have a duty, known as the Universal Service Obligation (USO), to provide a reasonable number of working phone boxes where they’re most needed: the Electronic Telecommunications Code (Schedule 2 of the Telecommunications Act 1984) gives operators wide powers to install and keep “electronic communications apparatus” on the highway.
At the UDL meeting it was mentioned that one box every 400 metres in London might be appropriate provision and that multiple boxes in one location are not required to meet service obligations [this advice is blind to the service provider, of which there are at least three in the capital] . This is supported by Ofcom’s guidance on Removing Public Call Boxes: “if there are two phone boxes within 400 metres’ walk of each other, BT can take one away without following our rules. However, if they want to take away the last one as well, they have to follow an agreed process.”
Permissions and Powers
4 main issues
1. Does a conventional call box need prior approval, permission or consent?
It appears that the installation of a conventional PCB (for example, red or other finish boxes with a phone inside – common K2s and K6s and similarly-sized KX and KX+ units) is classed as permitted development under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, part 24, schedule 2. This allows for the “installation, alteration or replacement of any telecommunication apparatus” by Telecommunications Code System Operators.
There are conditions attached to these permitted development rights, including prior approval from the local planning authority. If prior approval is sought the LPA can refuse permission – on amenity or safety grounds but must do this within 56 days. If the LPA does not respond in this time it is assumed they have no objections. The owner of the adjacent land needs to be notified too and can refuse to allow the installation. S115E of the Highways Act makes provision riparian owner to have right to comment regarding commercial installations on the highway where the?]
The date from which the 56-day period starts is significant and there can be arguments about when the period starts and ends, particularly if the ‘;application’ looks like a general letter of enquiry. Some boroughs have noted that prior notifications sometimes do not look like applications and thus do not get processed appropriately. There has been a case where the start date for the notification period was under dispute leading to an appeal to decide if the refusal given by the LPA fell within or outside the 56 day notice period and was therefore lawful or not. In this particular case it seems the online application date was not the same as the day the cheque was received.
There have also been comments about notifications failing to include maps or enough information for the local authority to comment properly. In such cases, the authority may object or refuse to validate on the grounds of insufficient information being supplied.
2. Does an advert in the window of a conventional phone box need consent?
Class 16 of Schedule 3 of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended by the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2011) gives deemed advertisement consent for an advertisement displayed as a film on the glazed surface of a call box, other than a kiosk of type K2 (1927) or K6 (1935) designed by Giles Gilbert Scott.
This means that an advertisement can be displayed on the glazed surface, but not on the non-glazed surface such as a dividing bar, frame and so on. In October 2011 there was a further amendment to the Regulations correcting the loophole of ‘film on the glass’ to include adverts behind glass as well. There was an exemption for displays that have been extant for 10 years or more or have Express consent. It remains open to serve a discontinuance notice in the interests ov visual amenity or safety.
There are conditions/limitations attached to Class 16 which mean the following does not have deemed consent:
- An advertisement in an AONB, a conservation area or an area of special advertisement control
- An Illuminated advert.
- An advertisement (other than the name of the operator and its symbol) displayed on more than once face of a kiosk (i.e. one per box)
- Where three or more kiosks are sited in a row or group and there is an advertisement displayed on any face of one kiosk, an advertisement on the face of any adjacent kiosk.
This last limitation means that if there are two kiosks, there can be two advertisements, but only a maximum of two if there are three or four kiosks.
The unauthorised display of an advertisement is an offence under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Any person found guilty of such an offence is liable to a fine of up to £2,500 upon conviction in the Magistrates’ Court and up to £250 per day should the offence continue after a first conviction.
3. Do new-style, open-sided kiosks or ATM machine units with phones need planning permission or consent from the Highway Authority?
New open-sided units – including the 1.36-metre wide ST6 unit with an illuminated advert on one side, and the ATM machine with phone – are now in use. The ST6 allows display of a 6-sheet advertisement, as used in bus shelters.
The advert on the ST6 unit is illuminated and thus requires advertisement consent. If this is granted, it is taken as deemed planning permission for the structure.
ATM/Phone Kiosks are another structure that has been introduced to London streets in recent years. It has been successfully argued by some boroughs that the phone use element of these is subsidiary to their cash dispensing functions and therefore they are not Permitted Development (PD) under the above Order. Part 24 refers to: “Development by or on behalf of a telecommunications code system operator for the purpose of the operator’s telecommunication system”. Arguably, planning permission is therefore required for the installation of a structure that is principally a banking use in the street (use Class A2) (see Appendix A at the end of this paper for an example).
Where it is accepted that a unit is permitted development under Part 24 when installed, it is not clear what happens In the event of the phone component being removed or failing to work. In such instance does the status of the unit erected under permitted development (as a telecommunication installation) change? Some have suggested that the GDPO needs updating to make the provision of a working phone available for public use a condition for retaining the structure with its PD status.
As well as deciding if planning permission and/or express advertisement consent is required, a local authority or TfL may like to consider if they need to give consent as the Highway Authority. TfL obtained legal advice in 2008 which said that the Electronic Telecommunications Code allowed service providers to install ‘electronic communications apparatus’ on the highway but suggested that the advertising panel on an open kiosk (or ATM machine) goes beyond a simple support structure for a payphone and thus cannot be installed under this Code.
It may be that if the unit is not installed under the Code, then authority under Section 115E or H of the Highway Act 1980 is not automatically obtained and could therefore be refused if the proposal is not acceptable. Under the Act it seems that any frontager affected by the sign would need to be consulted and their views taken into consideration.
London operates a permit system for opening the highway and this is required in participating boroughs before the surface of the highway is opened.
Deciding an application
As always relevant policies at national, London and borough levels will be important determinants of any decisions. Conservation area statements, public realm policies, local character and pedestrian movement policies may all be relevant. But cases should be assessed on their individual merits and a certain instillations may be acceptable in one location and not a few metres down the road or around a corner where circumstances may be different. The coherence and quality of the streetscape, pavement width, use of furniture zones, pedestrian and cycle desire lines and site lines, pavement demand due to bus stops, shop entrances etc, number of ATMs in the area and local crime and anti social behaviour issues and so on may all be relevant. Since 2006 local authorities have a duty to ensure that people with disabilities have similar access provision to able bodied people. The former Disability discrimination legislation has now been amalgamated with Equalities legislation and the needs of people in wheelchairs and those with visual impairment are particularly relevant. Long cane users often tap along the back edge of a pavement and an installation such as that illustrated above would reduce the ability of a long can user to navigate safely.
It has been suggested that conditions to any express consents or permissions given for phone related units on public land should specify that the phone stays in use available for the public. Such conditions would ensure that advertising, ATM machines or any other profit making activity could not continue on public land without the associated phone service.
Providers argue that the money they make from advertising and ATMs helps them meet their USO and, in particular, covers costs in areas of low demand. However, it has not been established whether this revenue is only covering the costs of fulfilment of USO obligations (and what these should be) or generating a profit. It seems unclear if financial considerations should be relevant when deciding an application.
Appeal decisions related to refusals for new style kiosks (see Appendix B for details) suggest that:
- It can often be appropriate to refuse applications due to harm to conservation areas or the setting of listed buildings,
- It can also be appropriate to refuse on grounds of visual amenity outside conservation areas.
- Pedestrian movement issues are sufficient to warrant refusal, but it depends on site conditions – for example if the orientation of the kiosks reduces pavement width by 44cm, which could impede free flow of pedestrians
- It might be worth noting a recent case regarding the City of London. Here, refusal for a new unit on the basis of the impact of advertising displayed on the kiosk was overturned with the comment that the existence of advertising material on a telephone kiosk that is otherwise sited appropriately in the planning context and has an intrinsically acceptable appearance may not be a material consideration in determining whether prior approval should have been given for the kiosk itself.
- Potential distraction to traffic is not generally regarded to be significant for static adverts, but it would again depend on site-specific conditions
- Blocking of clear views for drivers and other road users is a concern in some instances in effect, every siting needs to be considered on its merits, and the kiosks might be acceptable in some instances.
- Advertisement consent is temporary for only 5 years and while it can be renewed it is often forgotten about and it is unlikely that the phone box would be removed at the end of that period.
4. What powers are there to remove existing structures?
It has been suggested that if a PCB has become, and remains, abandoned the local authority can serve a notice on the system provider. They would first serve notice saying the PCB it is not operating and request that it is removed under section 143 of the Highways Act 1980. If the operator does not respond the local authority may be able to remove the box itself after serving notice that it intends to do this. It has been argued that the PCB can be termed as ‘abandoned’ if a call can no longer be made from it.
There seem to be some other powers which may be relevant. For example, Section 116 of the Highways Act 1980 enables the Highways Authority to deal with encroachment on the public highway that is preventing the legitimate use of the highway. Section 130 places a duty on the Highways Authority to protect the rights of the public to use and enjoy the highway and Section 143 refers to the removal of structures from the highway.
Some have argued that if a local authority was minded (and depending on circumstances), it could make a case that certain boxes are not fulfilling the permitted development rights because they, for example, disrupt use of traffic signs or endanger people using the highway. They might be able to argue that phone-related structures interfere with Highway Act 1980 provisions. But generally it seems very difficult to get rid of troublesome boxes or kiosks or ensure they are adequately maintained.
There have been a couple of interesting cases mentioned recently. For example, one borough seems to have managed to get a box attracting anti-social behaviour locked and another has talked about maybe welding them shut. Whether this is feasible or allowable is not clear, and whether it would mean a unit is really ‘abandoned’ (as a call cannot be made from it) allowing a notice to be served to remove it remains to be seen. Boroughs have warned that the abandoned approach does not always work well.
When a former operator went into receivership, assets that neither were reusable by a successor nor valued as useful by the Receiver were regarded as ‘dumped rubbish’ (with the agreeement of the Receiver) and removed under Highways Act powers to clear dumped rubbish.
The Current Climate
It would seem that making calls from phone boxes is not generating as much income as it used to, so providers are looking at other ways of making money. It was mentioned at the UDL meeting that income from London advertising may subsidies the provision of rural boxes. One borough has suggested figures they obtained showed that advertisement income from a stainless steel box with advertising was around five times the call income in a week. It costs about £80 a week to buy space on a phone box in Central London and it is estimated about a third of this is passed to the ‘owner’ of the structure.
At the same time maintaining unnecessary, unprofitable phone boxes is a money losing exercise and nobody seems to dispute that there are a large number of boxes in London that could be removed without jeopardizing service provision. At the moment it seems that the offer is to remove unwanted or problem boxes, but still ensure adequate service provision, by replacing older boxes with newer units such as the circa 1.3m-wide advertising panel with phone or phone-with-ATM-machine.
However, where more units exist than are needed to provide an adequate service providers sometimes seem to be reluctant to remove unneeded boxes. This may be due to cost and logistics of removal, but some have suggested that they may feel that some kind of compensation for loss of potential advertisement revenue is required.
Boxes are often in the wrong places in terms of pedestrian activity and streetscape issues and they can attract anti-social behaviour. Local residents, businesses and councils often wish to see them removed (although there are usually many possible motives, some of them conflicting). And this, combined with a perceived reluctance for service providers to remove or reposition such boxes has caused anxiety. The idea that problem boxes can only be removed if a much bigger unit is allowed has caused some upset and it is not clear if the removal of boxes is a relevant reason for approving an advertisement or planning application for a new unit.
There will be a cost associated with the physical removal of units, including stopping power and telecommunication lines, disposing of the box, making good the pavement etc. Some report that phone companies are charging thousands to remove existing boxes – it has been suggested that this may be derived by multiplying annual rent by up to 25 times in some situations but we have no consistent information on costs. In the property world it is a maximum of 14 x the income to arrive at a capital value and more often it is between 10x and 12 x, depending on the quality of the location. A discussion with the service provider in the first instance seems sensible but It might be worth local authorities considering if there are any options to remove units themselves. It should be no more expensive than removing a redundant lamp column.
It has been reported that one offer being made by a phone company is to remove up to 6 obsolete boxes on condition that one or more ST6 units (with advertising on the rear) can be installed instead. The new unit would be next to, and perpendicular to, the carriageway so that the advert is prominent to vehicle users. There may be offers around the ATM boxes with phone attached too, but we have not heard of them recently. The ST6 is more accessible for wheelchair users and others and is designed to reduce anti social behavior as it has no ‘inside’ space.
It is of course up to London boroughs (and TfL) to make up their own minds about such an offer, but here are some issues to be kept in mind:
- These are very large structures, potentially out of scale with many London town centres and streets, although there are sites where they may be acceptable. The advert kiosk is around 1.36m wide. Considering the size of most pavements, and the need for 1.5 m to 2m min unimpaired walking space for town centres (Manual for Streets calls for 2m min clear zones) this seems inappropriate in many locations. One borough has said that most of its streets are around 2.4m wide (or less) so the kiosk would only leave around 1m clearance for pedestrians even if placed right up to a pavement edge [and most authorities require a 450mm minimum kerb face to street furniture clearance] and for the most part would cause an obstruction. They suggest that these kiosks should only be considered in footways of 2.7m or greater width.
- Many of the units are opaque for their whole width and to a considerable height allowing people to hide behind them and potentially reducing highway and personal safety. (Note that some of the advertisement panels have a narrower base.) Similar concerns may apply to older boxes, especially if in groups, but concerns about safety have been raised by some.
- Site lines in streets can be important, particularly around busy areas and where there may be bus stops etc.
- Although it was suggested at the UDL meeting that a number of boroughs had agreed to these structures, boroughs might like to check before allowing such statements to influence decisions.
- Developing smaller installations was mentioned at UDL’s meeting but the organisations involved did not seem keen. However we don’t know what might happen if enough boroughs push for smaller units potentially coordinating negotiations.
- It appears both the ATM and advertising kiosk associated phone units may need express advertisement consent or planning permission, even outside conservation areas. Further appeals may be needed to clarify different situations, but local authorities might not want to just take it for granted that these structures and adverts are permitted development/have deemed consent.
- If a LPA has adopted planning policies about streetscape quality etc and highway policies about furniture zones etc these may be useful as you evaluate and decide any applications.
- Public telephones still undoubtedly have some amenity value in many locations, such as transport interchanges, and provide a safety net for vulnerable people, visitors without a mobile or those who have lost one or batteries have failed.
- Do you need more ATMs in an area and do they give rise to further security issues? There are already many in most town and suburban centers, as well as in shops.
- You may generate income by agreeing to these new installations, and possibly associated contracts, but there are other options such as contracts for highway adverts with an advertising company, although these in themselves are urban clutter. You might have more control if you looked to raise income in this way but some boroughs have expressed concerns about the contracts and stipulations, so please take care. One borough said that they had to divert a footpath so an advert could go in the most prominent location.
- If you already have an advertising contract, or are thinking about one, extra phone related adverts on streets might reduce the income you can generate.
- What will local businesses and residents think? Especially if you are controlling their signage or other works.
- If you don’t want adverts in the street consider ensuring your Borough Management Plans and Planning Policy Documents have policies along the lines of ‘no adverts on street furniture’. You can also use policies in chapter 7 of the London Plan regarding ‘sense of place’ etc. to resist clutter when permission is needed.
Conclusion and Further Actions
It was good of BT to come to UDL’s street design network meeting to openly discuss the issue of removing unwanted phone boxes and their proposal to install the open sided ST6 advertisement kiosk and ATM unit as part of a deal. It is obviously a very emotive issue with a complicated legal and case law background.
The idea that public phones are a necessary service has been questioned, but not totally dismissed by most people who have been in contact with us.
But some seem very unhappy with the idea that phone operating companies should be able to make a profit out of advertisement etc in public space on the back of the argument that they are providing a public service. There is skepticism over the relationship between the amounts made by the phone companies from adverts in central areas and the provision of a quality public service or a subsidy to rural installations.
The idea that the offer to remove some boxes that nobody wants and are not needed only if they got something in return seems hard to accept for many as part of a public service situation. The principal function of the street is a place for movement, and commercial activity on highway land is contrary to the spirit of the highways Act, although S115 does allow some qualified use for this purpose if frontagers agree. The ability to install PCBs is a leftover from an earlier time and the advent of the mobile network has precipitated change but not yet the withdrawal of the facility on the public highway. If the provision of a public phone service in streets is really seen as a priority for government and communities then shouldn’t it be subsidised from the rest of the phone service, not add on income routes which may have unconnected, adverse impacts and run against the principles of not making a profit from the streets? This would seem much more appropriate than allowing the potential degradation of streetscape and pedestrian space to ‘pay for’ removal and maintenance of boxes, something many think they should be doing by responsible providers anyway?
Appeal decision re Payphone ATM Kiosk machine on the pavement highway in front of 239 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9HP
Appeal Ref: APP/K5600/C/07/2039919
The appeal is made under section 174 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as
amended by the Planning and Compensation Act 1991.
The appeal is made by British Telecommunications against an enforcement notice issued by The Council of The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.
The Council’s reference is E/06/2133.
The notice was issued on 9 January 2007.
The breach of planning control as alleged in the notice is Without planning permission, the erection of a Payphone ATM Kiosk machine on the pavement highway in front of 239 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9HP.
The requirements of the notice are Remove the Payphone ATM Kiosk Machine on the pavement highway in front of 239 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9HP and make good the pavement with matching pavement stones.
The period for compliance with the requirements is two months.
The appeal is proceeding on the grounds set out in section 174(2)[a], [c] and [f] of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 as amended.
Summary of Decision: The appeal is dismissed and the enforcement notice
1. The Appellant’s representations emphasise the efforts made to engage with and negotiate with the Council, and state that BT believes that it had a verbal agreement with the Council to deploy the appeal kiosk on this site. No formal claim of estoppel has, however been made. In any event, following the decision of the House of Lords in R (On the application of East Sussex County Council) v Reprotech (Pebsham) Ltd 28/2/02, I consider that if a binding determination is required as to whether permission is required, a formal application must be made under sections 191 or 192 of the Act. I therefore turn to the grounds of appeal before me.
The appeal on ground (c)
2. The Appellant states that where planning applications have been made for ATM kiosks this has been done by British Telecommunications (BT) without prejudice to its view that planning permission is not required. The appeal structure consists of an ATM kiosk on which there is an externally mounted telephone. This kiosk is paired with another conventional telephone kiosk. The enforcement notice strikes at the ATM Payphone kiosk only.
3. Both parties are evidently agreed that the outcome of the appeal on ground (c), turns on whether the ATM Payphone kiosk is permitted development under Schedule 2, Part 24, Class A of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO). I concur with this, because even where as stated a prior notification letter was sent to the Council in June 2004 and was not replied to, this could only result in a development being permitted if it did indeed fall within Class A.
4. The Appellant states that in terms of function more persons use the kiosk to telephone than to withdraw cash, and this is not disputed. They conclude that the kiosk’s primary function is as a payphone. The Council states that approximately 90% of the structure’s solid form is derived from its cash machine function, and my inspection suggests that some such substantial proportion is indeed so derived. Neither party refer to case law or enforcement appeal decisions to support their arguments.
5. I note that Class A in part conditionally allows development “…for the purpose of the operator’s electronic communications network…” of “… (a) the installation, alteration or replacement of any electronic communications apparatus….” While the external telephone is clearly part of a network, I do not consider that the ATM provision of cash function can reasonably be described in such terms. I conclude that the purpose of the structure is a mixed one and that it thus goes beyond what is authorised by Class A. Also taking into account that the bulk of the structure is derived from its cash machine role, I further conclude as a matter of fact and degree that it is not an electronic communications apparatus under Class A.
6. It is well established that the onus or responsibility is upon an Appellant to establish that an appeal on legal grounds such as (c) should prevail. I do not consider that this onus has been discharged. The appeal on ground (c) fails.
The deemed planning application – appeal on ground (a)
7. The fee for the deemed planning application was paid and much of the appeal under ground (f) constitutes arguments which support the planning merits of the proposal. These arguments amount to an appeal on ground (a).
8. The site is situated within The Boltons Conservation Area, where well established policies reflect the statutory requirement to give special attention to the desirability of preserving or enhancing the character or appearance of the area. Other policies and guidance referred to seek to avoid and/or reduce the visual clutter caused by street furniture. From my inspection of the site and area, and consideration of the representations made, I have concluded that the main issue in this case is whether the solidity/bulk of the kiosk is harmful to the street scene within the conservation area.
9. The ATM machine replaced an earlier conventional telephone kiosk. There has therefore not been an increase in street furniture, but a change in the appearance of one item thereof. Comparison with the adjacent telephone kiosk shows that the principal change has been that a glazed kiosk through which other objects can be seen has been replaced with a solid red and blue painted structure of near identical shape but very different appearance. This altered appearance is very evident within the street scene because the kiosk is sited in a freestanding position on a projecting tongue of pavement between two roads at a busy junction, and also because the eye is attracted by the colour scheme. I consider that the result has been to increase the visual clutter within the street scene. I do not consider that significant weight can be given to the existence of a blue painted shop front on the opposite side of the street, because of the separation between the two. I have concluded on the main issue in this case that the solidity/bulk of the kiosk is harmful to the street scene within the conservation area.
10. The externally mounted telephone is convenient for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility, but this beneficial purpose does not require an ATM machine. Similarly there is a demand for ATM facilities, but I do not consider this outweighs the harm done to the conservation area. The Council refers to other appeal decisions, but the Appellant has stated that these ATM kiosks were of a different design from the appeal kiosk, and I have therefore reached my decision on the particular merits of the present case. The appeal on ground (a) fails.
The appeal on ground (f)
11. Where arguments put forward under this ground support the deemed planning application, I have taken these into account in my consideration of the appeal on ground (a). An appeal on ground (f) is predicated upon the assumption that an enforcement notice is to be upheld, and seeks to establish that the steps required by a notice exceed what is necessary.
12. A fundamental part of considering whether a lesser requirement would be sufficient is that details of such lesser requirements be provided. In the present case, however, though referring to several potential new design solutions the Appellant has not provided an example of such designs, so as to make possible an assessment of whether replacement of the ATM with a different one might be substituted for the present notice requirement. Similarly references to alternative colouring of the kiosk are not illustrated. In the absence of such details I am unable to conclude that such a design or colour change would be sufficient. I have concluded that the requirement to remove the kiosk has not been shown to exceed what is necessary. The appeal on ground (f) fails.
13. I dismiss the appeal and uphold the enforcement notice. I refuse to grant planning permission on the application deemed to have been made under section 177(5) of the 1990 Act as amended.
V F Ammoun
Inspector’s Report on appeals in Wandsworth
This Inspector’s report concerns 15 appeals made by BT regarding rejection of permission for open-fronted, 2.64m tall by 1.34m wide kiosks in the London Borough of Wandsworth.
13 of the appeals were dismissed, with the following reasons cited:
- harmful to character and appearance of quiet, low-key and/or residential area [in 7 cases]
- visual impact of larger kiosk replacing standard box 
- impact on pedestrian movement (narrow pavements) 
- harmful to character and appearance of Conservation Area and/or listed buildings 
- create advertisement clutter where other panels are close by 
Two appeals were upheld. In both cases, the Inspector added conditions requiring the payphone to be installed and existing box(es) removed before the advertisement could be displayed. Site-specific reasons were as follows:
Outside 83 Wandsworth High Street. Although it is opposite a Conservation Area and the grade II listed Youngs Brewery, these are across a busy road. It is located in “a busy commercial area with plenty of signage evident” so “the 6-sheet will be seen in the context of the commercial buildings behind and not the more sensitive location across the road”. The kiosk will not obstruct passengers getting on and off the bus nearby, nor will it have a material impact on the pavement width.
Outside 230-232 Putney Bridge Road. Proposed kiosk replaces an existing edge-of-pavement box on a wide pavement. “The road is straight with no obstructions and the advertisement should not cause a distraction… The scale of the buildings is large and can easily accommodate the kiosk.”
City of London case, policy and guidance
This case shows that planning permission was refused by City of London on the basis of:
– poor design
– detriment to visual amenity
– use for advertising
– unacceptable increase in clutter to the detriment of the street scene
Some were also refused on grounds of obstruction and public safety, impact on a Conservation Area and setting of a listed building.
City of London policies and guidance appear to support this:
“Outdoor advertising has a strong impact on the appearance of buildings, the street scene and in particular the historic environment. The City’s approach to the control of advertisements in terms of size, location and illumination is restrained to safeguard the high quality of the City’s environment.” (Core Strategy, 3.10.3)
“In recent years, a proliferation of different telephone kiosks has appeared on the streets, adding considerable clutter to the street scene. Telephone kiosks should be carefully sited so as not to disrupt pedestrian movement.” (Street Scene Manual, part one, p15)
“Redundant and abandoned kiosks can have a detrimental impact on the surrounding streetscape and public realm. The Corporation will actively pursue the removal of abandoned telecommunication apparatus located in the footway as it contributes to the reduction of clutter on the City streets and, as such, is in line with Corporation’s aim of rationalising street furniture throughout the City. The Corporation welcomes the removal of unprofitable modern call boxes.” (Street Scene Manual, part three, p13)
“In general, on-street kiosks will require individual planning applications. Consideration should be given to the following criteria: A high quality design that does not
detract from the surrounding streetscape; Should not obscure key views within the streetscape; The location of kiosks should take account of circulation space in the footway and should not obstruct pedestrian flows; Should be sited in a coordinated manner with other street furniture; Advertising should be kept to a minimum; Every effort should be made to make kiosks accessible to people with disabilities.” (Street Scene Manual, part three, p14).
 BBC News cites figures from BT that it had removed 30,000 phone boxes between 2002 and 2008, and that two-thirds of the remaining 61,700 were unprofitable. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7228184.stm. In 2011, only 1% of adults said they had used a phone box in the previous month (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-12784596).
 Ofcom, Removing Public Call Boxes: a guide to the rules, http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removing_callboxes.pdf
 Kiosk No2, or K2, introduced in 1926 and is 9’ high by 3’4” wide (2.74 x 1.01m) – 227 out of 1,700 remain. Kiosk No6, or K6, introduced in 1936, is smaller – 8’ by 3’ (2.44 x 0.91m) – and 10,700 remain out of 60,000.
 See Infocus Public Networks Ltd v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Ors  EWHC 3309 (Admin) (17 December 2010) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2010/3309.html
 See TfL Pedestrian Comfort Technical Guidance http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/businessandpartners/pedestrian-comfort-guidance-technical-guide.pdf to check the appropriate clearance for an individual pavement.