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ASA Adjudication on Story Construction Ltd

Story Construction Ltd t/a Story Homes

Burgh Road Industrial Estate
Carlisle
Cumbria
CA2 7NA

Date:

29 February 2012

Media:

Brochure

Sector:

Business

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

A11-180474

Ad

Claims in a leaflet for a proposed housing development, viewed in December 2011, featured an "Artist's impression" image of the proposed development, which showed a number of houses on the ridge of a hill. Text stated "Our proposals will improve road safety by creating much safer routes to and from school, including significantly improved crossings and markings on Netherhall Road".

Issue

Friends of Deer Park challenged whether:

1. the artist's impression was misleading, because many of the houses had been coloured white so that it was not clear that they would be in view; and

2. the claim "Our proposals will improve road safety by creating much safer routes to and from school, including significantly improved crossings and markings on Netherhall Road". was misleading, because they considered road safety would not be improved.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

Response

1. Story Construction said the image was clearly labelled as an "Artist's Impression" and was therefore a subjective interpretation rather than a definitive photo-realistic image. The coloured row was the predominant and most visible feature of the site from that vantage point and as such, full detail and colour was used only on the key buildings. They explained that approach was consistent throughout their marketing and said it did not materially reduce the impact in the scene and was absolutely not intended to do so. The producer of the image confirmed that it was common practice to show 'background' buildings as basic white or grey blocks in such images and that the discoloured buildings did not change the essence of the view from that vantage point. Story Construction provided us with a copy of the image with the background buildings coloured in.

2. Story Construction provided us with evidence to show that highway matters had been agreed and approved by Cumbria County Council, the local Highway Authority. They provided a full report of the site area and explained that the development would offer more and wider pedestrian refuges, which would provide a safer crossing of the road than which currently existed. They explained that one accident had occurred in the area between 15 August 2007 and 14 August 2010, involving a school pupil who was seriously injured and crossed the road using his own judgement. The accident records showed that there were no pedestrian accidents at the refuge, indicating that students were able to use it safely. They said their changes would alter the route that school children would take, instead providing a more direct pedestrian route which would be wider, lit and more attractive. This new route would reduce the use of the existing substandard pedestrian refuge and they stated that was a highway safety benefit.

Assessment

1. Not upheld

The ASA noted the image was clearly labelled as an artist's impression and that the buildings coloured were the predominant proposed buildings. We noted that the background buildings were coloured white, which was in keeping with the rest of Story Construction's marketing and that was a commonplace approach in images of that type. We noted that the whitened images were only small sections of background buildings, none of which broke the skyline or would be considered a significant feature of the view from that vantage point. After viewing the image with the buildings coloured in, we considered that the difference was only minor and concluded that the ad was not materially misleading.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) but did not find it in breach.

2. Not upheld

We noted that the highway matters had been agreed and approved by Cumbria County Council although we noted that an environmental impact assessment had yet to be carried out regarding additional traffic. We considered that consumers would read the claim "Our proposals will improve road safety by creating much safer routes to and from school, including significantly improved crossings and markings on Netherhall Road" and understood that there could be no objective way of proving that the measures Story Construction had taken were safer because they were only proposals and had not yet been carried out. Instead, readers were likely to understand from the claim that Story Construction believed the changes they planned to make would improve the safety of the road. We noted that their suggested proposals included the building of an additional, wider pedestrian refuge and a wider, lit pedestrian path which provided a more direct route to the school. On that basis, we considered that the claim was not misleading.

On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 and 3.3 (Misleading advertising) but did not find it in breach.

Action

No further action necessary.

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