Plans for hi-tech advertising boards in Norwich have split opinion City Hall opinion, with a committee chairman calling objections "ridiculous".

Telecoms giant BT submitted two applications for 'street hubs' – 75inch advertising monoliths with free Wi-Fi and phone charging facilities - at sites on St Swithins Road and Brigg Street.

At Thursday’s City Hall planning committee meeting, Keith Driver, the chairman of the committee became exasperated with fellow councillors concerns.

The plans, along with a third application on Plumstead Road, were previously heard in January.

But councillors turned the applications back, asking for more information on energy usage and privacy concerns. The Plumstead Road application also required further comment from the county council's highway department.

Planning officer Stephen Polley said BT had been unable to provide much further information, stating that the energy used by the boards was 100pc renewable and said any mobile data mining concerns could not be used by councillors to inform their decision.

Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn objected to the St Swithins Road plans, he said: “In June last year, this council passed an ethical advertising motion which highlighted the concerns about advertising, especially in public spaces and what this is doing is taking us in the opposite directions and giving us more advertising around our beautiful city.

Eastern Daily Press: Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn.Green Party councillor Jamie Osborn. (Image: Jamie Osborn)

“They are also used as a drop-off point for drug dealing and so they could impact on the quality of life of people nearby."

Labour's Mike Sands asked if the authority could control the type of advertising that appears but the legal adviser said that was not possible.

Keith Driver, the committee chairman, rejected the councillor's light pollution concerns arguing there was light pollution from people walking with their phones out.

He said: “You look there now and everyone's on their phones.

“You’ve got to watch out for pedestrians let alone an advertising board there. It’s ever so hard if you driving a car and these pedestrians walk out with their phones on them.”

Mr Driver also praised BT for letting people make 30-second calls for free, describing them as an advantage for the city.

An application for the structure on St Swithins Road was approved by councillors but the advertising was rejected due to the visual impact.

Mr Driver accused opposition councillors of objecting for political rather than planning reasons, branding their objections as “ridiculous”.

The Brigg Street structure and the advertising were both approved.