A large new digital advertising screen that would have loomed over shoppers in one of the busiest streets in Reading town centre has been refused.

A company called Maxx Media was hoping to install a large advertising screen near the seating area outside of Marks & Spencer in Broad Street.

The rectangular screen would have been 5.2 metres tall and double-sided, projecting adverts to pedestrians walking in both directions.

However, the screen cannot be installed as it was blocked at a council meeting.

Objecting to the project at the meeting, Richard Price said: "We have so much of our attention these days taken over by virtual, unreal screens and spaces, spending so much time on our phones, watching TVs.

"The real environment becomes more and more valuable.

"This screen will further distract us from our thoughts, from real experiences, from each other.

"This screen's size makes it completely inappropriate for the location. It will loom over the nearby seating area, it will be in the faces of the people having an evening drink outside the Alehouse.

"As it is there are already far too many digital screens along Broad Street, advertising products that pull money out of the town.

"Why is it that areas that are already degraded by ads are allowed to be further degraded?"

Fellow public speaker Helen Palmer added: "This idea epitomises putting commercial interests abo the wellbeing of citizens.

"The proposed kind of big flashy board like the one we have had inflicted on us outside the station looks tacky, and brings down the tone of our town.

"There are no redeeming features, only a waste of electricity."

A CGI for a new digital screen facing west along Broad Street in Reading town centre.A CGI for a new digital screen facing west along Broad Street in Reading town centre. (Image: Maxx Media)

In defence of the project, Hugh James from ECE Planning stated the screen would provide free and affordable advertising for Reading businesses, as well as public service advertising and community notices.

He also argued the screen was suitably placed outside of the Market Place/London Street Conservation Area in a mixed setting of modern and traditional architecture.

Mr James said: "The digital screen complements the more modern context, and would sit comfortably with other screens and advertisements in the street.

"It will add some visual interest and vitality to this important area of the public realm."

A decision was made by Reading Borough Council's planning applications committee.

Ultimately, councillors agreed the screen would result in significant harm to the character, appearance and amenity of Broad Street and harm to nearby listed buildings in King Street and the Butter Market.

While Micky Leng (Labour, Whitley), lead councillor for planning, voted against it, he did joke that he was surprised by the hostility to the screen.

He said: "I was expecting they were going to say that lasers came out of it and started culling the pigeons."

The screen installation was unanimously refused on Wednesday, June 26.

You can view the refused application by typing reference 231423 into the council's planning portal.