Broadband boxes a blot on north London landscape

THEY are designed to provide residents with super-fast connection to broadband, so that people can download films, music and connect to the internet in a style fit for the 21st century.

But for some residents, the arrival of 1.6metre high, greensteel boxes in historic parts of the borough is a retrograde step in town planning.

Highgate resident Elspeth Clements contacted the Ham&High to express her concerns about the proliferation of the green cabinets in the village.

They contain the fibre optic cables which allow broadband access at speeds of up to 40 megabits per second.

Ms Clements is an architect and on the planning and development committee of the Highgate Society.

She said: “The cabinets are ugly and very badly designed. If you look at the history of street furniture, such as the Gilbert Scott telephone boxes, people once designed them in a way that it would fit into the environment.

“But these cabinets are large, ugly, intrusive and they have no design input whatsoever.”

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Residents were mortified to discover that a cabinet had been installed on the wall between Church House and Russell House in South Grove. Church House is a Grade 11* listed building and Russell House is also listed.

“Now a plethora of planning applications for up to 20 more of these boxes have arrived in Camden and Haringey for all over Highgate,” she warned.

Ms Clements also questioned why so many boxes were required when there are already existing, smaller boxes in the area.

A spokeswoman for BT which is providing the upgraded internet connection, said: “We are committed to working with local authorities to understand their concerns and work with them to minimise any negative visual impact.

“However the new cabinets are required as part of BT’s multi-million pound rollout of super-fast broadband.

“The super-fast speeds will power new business applications and more sophisticated home and entertainment services.’’