Charity is boxing clever with plans for Leeds phone booths

Phone booths in Brighton that have already been converted into retail kiosks.
Phone booths in Brighton that have already been converted into retail kiosks.
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A trio of traditional red phone boxes in the middle of Leeds could be set for a new lease of life – as super-convenient snack bars.

Charity chiefs are seeking planning permission for the transformation of the old-style booths in City Square into staffed kiosks selling items such as tea, coffee, non-alcoholic cold drinks and ice cream.

The charity behind the plan, Thinking Outside The Box, has already turned two phone boxes into mini retail units in its home city of Brighton.

A design statement submitted to Leeds City Council with the City Square planning application says: “The kiosks are being marketed at the commuter, who will want to stop briefly to pick up a drink or snack and then move on to work.”

The statement also says:

* The “iconic appearance” of the phone boxes would not be changed by the scheme;

* The conversion would require no “seating, parasols or other paraphernalia”;

* The units would operate during normal business hours and would be secured at night by a five-lever mortice lock.

Miles Broe, an architect working with Thinking Outside The Box, today told the Yorkshire Evening Post that, once wages and running costs had been covered, income from the outlets would be donated to a charity of the council’s choice.

The local authority has set a target date of December 4 for a decision on the application.

BT runs a programme called Adopt a Kiosk which allows charities and community groups to buy red phone boxes – left increasingly underused by the rise of the mobile – for a nominal fee of £1.

Britain’s classic phone booths were designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, the architect responsible for Battersea Power Station, Waterloo Bridge and Liverpool Cathedral.

Double boost for Leeds city centre cultural and heritage buildings