Planning permission has been granted for two ‘smart benches’ which have been installed in Sydenham and Deptford, despite concerns from local residents.

The benches, which are powered by solar panels, provide air and noise pollution data, offer charging facilities and wi-fi, are two of 10 benches which have been installed across the borough by Strawberry Energy.

But local residents were concerned the benches added visual clutter to the street and acted as an advertisement for Strawberry Energy.

Annabel McLaren from the Sydenham Society said residents felt the previous bench was more suitable for the area and had been installed with support from the community.

“The smart bench does not enhance the street-scape and does not make a positive contribution to conservation. It is a congruous element, adding to a high level of distracting street clutter,” she told the committee.

But Cllr Alan Smith said the area was already littered with advertisements, and there had been no loss of seating for the public as a result of the smart benches.

Further objections from Lewisham Living Streets included concerns planning permission for the smart benches was privatisation of public spaces, and excluded those who did not use smartphones or tablets.

Lewisham Council sought planning permission after the benches were installed because of misinformation around the installation of street furniture, a council officer told the committee.

“But subsequent to the installation on further investigation, planning permission was found to be required because they weren’t installed by the council,” the officer explained.

A representative of Strawberry Energy said the benches had been used between 5,000 and 6,000 times for wi-fi and charging devices.

All 10 benches have now been granted planning permission.