Plans to install new hi-tech kiosks in Battersea have been approved by Wandsworth Council.

The InLinkUK/BT kiosks in Northcote Road will replace the old telephone box design, which were first introduced in 1921.

Five of the phone kiosks will be replaced with the new design, which allows people to charge their phones, make free calls and surf ‘ultra-fast’ Wi-Fi according to the council.

A similar application for one in Garratt Lane was also given the green light.

Councillor Will Sweet, chairman of the planning committee, said: “We think these new multimedia centres will be a much more welcome sight on Northcote Road and Garratt Lane than the rather unkempt and largely redundant pay phone kiosks they are replacing, none of which features the famous traditional red Gilbert Scott design.

“In planning terms, a less obtrusive replacement fits in far better with the streetscape and will reduce street clutter and pavement obstructions in this vibrant and much loved shopping and leisure destination.

“And to ensure they are not overly conspicuous at night time they will be dimmed so they do not cause distraction.”

Wandsworth Times:

The evolution of the phone box.

Some have welcomed the decision and believe it to be a positive move.

Obed Yeboah, who runs Digilab Tooting in Trident Business Centre, said: “I think the new kiosks are a great idea.

“At the moment, if I needed to make a phone call I wouldn’t even think of using the existing ones - they’re so out of date and the user experience is poor.

“These days everything’s about the touchscreen, mobile phones, computers - even the ordering kiosk in McDonalds are touchscreen!”

However, others have made their opinions clear in a number of objections prior to the decision on December 14.

Adrian Short and Richard Pope wrote to councillors Will Sweet, Tony Belton, Peter Dawson and case planning officer James Cummins, asking for more time to consider the proposals.

The letter, seen by Wandsworth Guardian, said: “We are technologists with an interest in the privacy aspects of ‘smart cities’ technologies such as these BT InLink kiosks.

“We are concerned that the Council has not given these planning applications sufficient consideration to ensure that their actual and potential capabilities are understood and that the broad public interest is protected both now and in the future.

“Specifically, the approved specifications and proposed planning conditions give far too much latitude to the applicant to adapt these kiosks without further reference to the Council into a street-level mass surveillance system that has the potential to cause significant harm to the public.

“Moreover, there is evidence that this is precisely what the applicant intends, although they do not couch their intentions in these terms.”

InLinkUK/BT plan to install 75 of the hubs across Wandsworth, replacing the previous models, with the aim to put at least one in each neighbourhood.

It is currently unknown when work will commence.