The Camberwell Society

Society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell

Shrouded in advertising


Elizabeth Borowiecka investigates the massive advertisements which have recently covered prominent buildings

An application has been submitted to Southwark Council to erect a temporary externally illuminated advertising shroud on the front of the buildings at 20 – 23 Camberwell Green. The shroud, if given permission, will be in place until November 2023, a year from the date of the application. (Ref 22/AP/3864)

Advertising shrouds cover scaffolding erected in order to carry out building works to existing building façades. The shroud typically consists of a full-scale replica of the building behind, with an advertising panel at its centre.

There have been two recent examples of advertising shrouds fitted to scaffolding on Camberwell buildings:

352 – 354 Camberwell New Road, planning applications 19/ AP/1422 and 19/AP/7386

3 Camberwell Church Street, planning applications

20/AP/1414 and 21/AP/3130

The applications on both buildings were accompanied by a schedule of proposed works by Cubed Property Advisors Ltd.

The applications on both buildings were initially refused permission on the grounds that they would adversely impact on the character and appearance of the Camberwell Green Conservation Area, but the decisions were overturned on appeal on the grounds that a shroud decorated with an image of the building behind would be preferable to an undecorated one, and would not damage the architectural integrity of the building and the surrounding area.

The history of these permissions and subsequent events has given rise to some concerns:

1. There is little or no evidence that any building renovation work has taken place on the front elevations of the two buildings which were given permission for shrouds, certainly not work that would have taken a year to complete.

2. The image (left) of 3 Camberwell Church Street to be found currently on Google Maps shows that the scaffolding and shroud were extremely prominent in their surroundings and also that the advertisement completely covered the shroud, although the planning permission required an image of the building behind the scaffolding to be shown, with the advertisement panel at its centre.

3. Scaffolding on the pavements outside the two buildings has caused obstruction for pedestrians, the shrouds have reduced the daylight entering the windows on the upper floors of the buildings and the scaffolding supporting the shroud at 352 – 354 Camberwell New Road has given graffiti artists an opportunity to decorate the building elevation at high level.

The application for an advertising shroud on 20-23 Camberwell Green, currently being considered, has similar characteristics to the two applications described above.

It is accompanied by a schedule of proposed works to the property by Cubed Property Advisors Ltd. This covers repairs to roofs, brickwork, flashings and windows at the rear of the property, which will not be assisted by the scaffolding and shroud proposed for the front of the building.

Whilst it is important that property owners are able to obtain planning permission for the erection of scaffolding necessary for the repair of their buildings, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that this application is less to do with refurbishment works to buildings and more to do with the financial rewards associated with advertising.

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The Camberwell Society was formed in 1970 and is the recognised amenity society for those living, working or interested in Camberwell.

The Society’s objectives, as defined by our constitution, are: to stimulate public interest in Camberwell, to promote high standards of planning and architecture in Camberwell, and to secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest in Camberwell.

We are a charity and raise money for local charities. In the past we have raised money for Southside Rehabilitation Association, St Giles Trust, Cambridge House, the CamberwellCommunity Choir, the HollingtonYouth Centre and the Camberwell Arts Festival