Phone Boxes replaced by Digital Advertisements

26 February 2023

Plans announced by BT

BT are planning to replace public telephone boxes in the Town Centre by BT Street Hubs that offer a extended range of services.  These facilities are built into a enclosure that is a double sided Video Display for advertisements that has a impact on the Street ambience.

The BT Hub provides:

  • Ultrafast public and encrypted Wi-Fi
  • Access to public services Multiple accessibility options
  • Powered by 100% renewable carbon-free energy
  • Inspected weekly and cleaned at least every two weeks, monitored 24/7
  • Secure power-only USB ports for rapid device charging
  • Free phone calls Direct 999 call button
  • Display community and emergency (i.e. police) awareness messaging
  • Environmental sensors to measure air quality, noise, traffic and more.

Most of these facilities are accessed via a small tablet on the side of the unit.

The unit also has two Video Screens one on each side of 1.8m Height and .9M wide.  These screens are capable of changing adverts every 10 Seconds.  The adverts will be in operation 24hrs per day.

The Plans.

BT is planning to make the following changes

Planning Application

BT Hub Location

Phone Boxes Removed


Pavement adjacent to Nandos, 11 -12, Friary Street

2 X North Street


Outside Barclays in North Street

2 X from outside old Post Office North Street (See Note below)


Outside Gascoigne Pees, 193 High Street, High Street

Junction The Chase and Madrid Road

Multi-storey car park York Road


Note: In North Street BT will resite one of the phone boxes removed from outside the old post office to the pavement opposite once a bench is removed from the area 22/P/02177

See the map at the foot of this post

GBC Planning

The Planning Department have concerns on the proposals and comment on one of the applications that:-  

Whilst no objection is raised to the concept of the proposed hub itself, it is the combination of its height and its solid mass in this location, in an area of domestically scaled buildings, when viewed face on, in this particular location that would end long views along North Street and be a dominant feature in the street scene (likely with animation) that raises concerns. As such this location is unlikely to be viewed favourably. It is considered that a hub of this height would sit more comfortably within a public open space rather than on a pavement. In addition, the height of any such hub should be reduced so that it fits more comfortably within the street scene it sits.

The Society View

Although we can see benefits from the proposal e.g. Environmental sensors, and fast 999 access as well as 5G etc. We have the following issues with the proposals.

  1. The Visual Impact of the Advertising on the street environment. Although North Street is not a Heritage Area like the High Street, we believe advertising will detract from a already indifferent street scape which should be improved.
  2. Although we can see a role for Community and Emergency awareness we already have Totem Poles in the Town Centre proving maps for the area etc.

The Society appreciates that BT have a universal service provision obligation to provide public access to telephones.  We feel the access can be provided in a far more discreet manner than the advertising solution being proposed.


Share this article

Help us make Guildford better

We want our town to be vibrant, attractive and liveable. We support development that brings a sense of place and enhances the best aspects of our town. If such aims can be embraced, we believe Guildford has the chance to lead the way in enabling sensitive and sustainable development.

Pressures for development are increasing. Planning rules are being eased. The Society’s commitment to standing up for Guildford is needed more than ever.

Support Us

Getting involved allows the society to continue its work.   We welcome new members, from every age and background.  Membership provides an opportunity for you to contribute to the continued health of the town and surrounding area, and to meet other people who care about Guildford.