Phone boxes dial up a row over clutter in Preston city centre

How Infocus say the new phone boxes will look in the city centre.
How Infocus say the new phone boxes will look in the city centre.

A London-based company has lodged an appeal after being refused permission to erect eight state-of-the-art phone boxes in Preston city centre.

Infocus Public Networks is hoping to install six of the communication hubs in Fishergate, one in Church Street and the other in the Markets Quarter.

But, after the city council rejected the applications in July because of appearance and siting issues, Infocus has appealed the decision claiming the public payphones meet government guidelines and should therefore be permitted.

The company wants to site one phone hub on the pavement outside Preston Railway Station and five more at intervals up Fishergate.

A seventh would be near the junction of Church Street and Stanley Street and the eighth at the junction of Market Street and Orchard Street, opposite the new Market Hall.

Infocus say the sites have been selected to ensure unobstructed footpath widths and the hubs would be away from other street furniture to avoid a cluttered appearance. The kiosks have been designed with a narrow profile and “built to a high standard” and to blend into the street scene.

Council officers rejected the phone boxes saying the siting and appearance of the proposed communications hubs would have “an unacceptable adverse impact on the character of the street scene and recently completed public realm improvements, reducing the width of usable footway on a key walking route within the city centre.”

The city council argues extensive works have been carried out in recent years on Fishergate with the introduction of shared space.

The project has included the reduction of street furniture and clutter.

The proposed phone boxes would be 2.6m high and 1.3m wide, set at right angles to the road.