Urgent action needed to reduce the numbers of ugly phone boxes

Most phone boxes are useful and attractive but some are simply ugly and get in the way. They don’t need planning permission so what can┬ábe done? We asked Esther Kurland DIRECTOR of Urban Design London.

Almost but not quite a traditional phone box
A hoarding with a phone at the back

Next steps. The government is about to change the Electronic Communications Code. This is the statutory regulation that controls phone boxes on our streets. At present it is too lax. It needs tighter restrictions on the placing of phone kiosks on pavements so that councils can require the removal of kiosks that are in poor condition, etc.

Electronic Communications apparatus means any apparatus designed or adapted for use in connection with the provision of electronic communications, any apparatus designed or adapted for this use, any line and any other structure or thing designed or adapted for this use.

So if this is a problem in your area send robust evidence such as: derelict kiosk; kiosk as an obstruction on the pavement; less public need for kiosks; kiosk as a trojan horse for other installations or uses.

We suggest the code should state that: kiosks be excluded from the definition of Electronic Communications Apparatus; the right of operators to install apparatus should be removed unless there is a reference to other approvals processes; there should be a requirement that any equipment meets certain tests (e.g. a minimum distance between them) to avoid lines of kiosks filling a pavement.

This takes up more room than a normal phone box