Conservation groups have objected to the installation of large cabinets designed to bring super-fast broadband to Brighton and Hove.

BT's Openreach has made dozens of planning applications to set up the cabinets at various locations across the city.

High-speed broadband is seen as essential for the future economic health of the city and its ability to continue to attract innovative digital-based companies.

Some of the cabinets have already been approved by the council.

But five conservation societies have now joined together to campaign against the installation of the cabinets.

Although they insist they are not against the cabinets outright, the groups have called for BT to consult with them before they are installed.

The cabinets are larger than existing telephone exchanges and in many cases will be an addition rather than replacement.

The letter is signed by Stephen Neiman, of The Regency Society, Mick Hamer, of the Montpelier and Clifton Hill Society, Paul Phillips, of the Kemp Town Society, Selma Montford, of the Brighton Society, David Hainsworth, of the Kingscliffe Society and Roger Hinton, of the Regency Square Area Society.

It reads: “We are worried both about the lack of more general consultation and the impact that these monster cabinets could have, both within and outside conservation areas, if they are simply installed wherever Openreach finds most convenient.”

Mr Neiman said he did not want to give the impression the conservation groups are against the technology.

He said: “There is no doubt we have to move with the times and that we need super-fast broadband, especially in a vibrant city like Brighton.

“Having said that, I'm not convinced the solution put forward by BT is the right and proper one. We are not saying no – we just want to be consulted.”

Phil Jones, chief executive of Wired Sussex, the support organisation for digital business, believes the infrastructure is vital.

He said: “Ensuring this city has access to super-fast broadband is important not just to sustain the growth of our digital sector but also because it can help all of us to engage more fully with each other, our communities and our schools, councils and hospitals.

“I haven't seen these boxes but I do recognise that taking Brighton into the 21st century also has to be about finding ways to preserve what is unique about the city now.”

Richard Vahrman's digital company Locomatrix, which organises realworld outdoor games and activities, is based at home in Brunswick Terrace.

Although he is sympathetic to the concerns of conservationists, he said: “Sometimes they do not have their priorities quite right.

“On the Terrace there are many ugly things so I don't think the cabinet would make much difference. But in Brunswick Square then I can see the need for the cabinet to be hidden by shrubs or something.”

A spokeswoman for BT described the new equipment as “essential” but added: “We do fully appreciate the concerns of the conservation and amenities committees regarding the siting of our super-fast broadband cabinets in certain parts of the city.

“We are committed to working with local authorities to minimise the visual impact of the new street cabinets, and have done this successfully in other conservation areas.”

See a full list of the sites being considered at ends

Sites yet to be approved:

  • BH2010/01596 Clifton Road Side of 7 Clifton Hill Brighton
  • BH2010/01591 York Avenue Side Of 1 Lansdowne Road Hove
  • BH2010/01670 Outside 21 Clarence Square Brighton
  • BH2010/01564 Church Street Side Of 120-124 Queens Road Brighton
  • BH2010/01569 Outside 5-7 Brunswick Place Hove
  • BH2010/01475 Outside Central United Reform Church 28 Ventnor Villas Hove
  • BH2010/01580 Outside 161 Church Road Hove
  • BH2010/01235 Outside 38 Western Road, Hove
  • BH2010/01474 Outside 5-7 Brunswick Place, Hove__
  • BH2010/01223 Adjacent to 41 Fourth Avenue, Hove__
  • BH2010/01231 Third Avenue side of 72 Church Road, Hove__
  • BH2010/01243 Adjacent to 161 Church Road, Hove__
  • BH2010/01449 Medina Villas side of 124 Church Road, Hove__
  • BH2010/01233 Opposite 18 Bedford Square, Brighton
  • BH2010/01443 Montpelier Terrace side of 89 Montpelier Road_ _
  • BH2010/01452 Clifton Road side of 7 Clifton Hill, Brighton__
  • BH2010/01238 Outside 20 Buckingham Road, Brighton__
  • BH2010/01445 Church Street side of 120 Queens Road, Brighton__
  • BH2010/01447 New Dorset Street side of 58 Upper Gloucester Road, Brighton
  • BH2010/01451 Outside Beau House 30 Bath Street, Brighton__
  • BH2010/01476 Guildford Road side of 1 Terminus Road, Brighton__
  • BH2010/01450 Aymer Road side of 14 - 18 New Church Road__
  • BH2010/01480 Pembroke Crescent side of 40 Sackville Road__
  • BH2010/01472 Outside 72 Upper North Street, Brighton
  • BH2010/01448 Outside 52 Dyke Road, Brighton__
  • BH2010/01552 Seafield Road side of 146 Church Road, Hove__
  • BH2010/01555 Vallance Road side of 170 Church Road, Hove
  • BH2010/01603 Outside Palmeira Grande Holland Road Hove
  • BH2010/01606 First Avenue outside St John The Baptist Church Hove
  • BH2010/01631 Outside 127 Lansdowne Place Hove
  • BH2010/01633 Palmeira Avenue side of 23A Palmeira Mansions Hove
  • BH2010/01632 Fourth Avenue side of 13-14 Kings Gardens Hove
  • BH2010/01635 Outside 27 Denmark Villas Hove
  • BH2010/01566 Walsingham Road side of 58 New Church Road Hove
  • BH2010/01648 Hove Street Side of 2 New Church Road Hove
  • BH2010/01659 Outside 56 Cambridge Road Hove
  • BH2010/01664 Church Road side of St John The Baptist Church Hove
  • BH2010/01489 Eaton Road Side of 50 The Drive Hove
  • BH2010/01655 Outside 64 Osborne Villas Hove
  • BH2010/01662 Outside 40B Sackville Road Hove
  • BH2010/01663 Outside 59 Norton Road Hove
  • BH2010/01665 Kingsway outside Flag Court Hove
  • BH2010/01700 Outside Central United Reform Church Ventnor Villas Hove
  • BH2010/01653 Outside Eaton Gate Eaton Gardens Hove
  • BH2010/01666 Outside 52-54 The Drive Hove
  • BH2010/01654 Outside 110C Western Road Brighton
  • BH2010/01656 Sillwod Street side of 25 Sillwood Road Brighton
  • BH2010/01657 Prince Albert Street side of 58 Ship Street Brighton
  • BH2010/01658 Outside 19 Montpelier Place Brighton
  • BH2010/01660 Outside Heather Court Montpelier Terrace Brighton
  • BH2010/01661 Outside 110 Upper North Street Brighton