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What is an advertisement?

An advertisement is a poster, placard, a fascia sign, a projecting sign, pole sign, canopy sign, model and device, advance sign and directional sign, estate agents boards, captive balloon advertisements (not balloons in flight), flag advertisements, price displays, traffic signs and place name signs. Memorials and railway signals are not advertisements.

The standard conditions in the regulations for all advertisements are that they are kept clean and tidy and in a safe condition. They must have the permission of the site owner including the Council on highway land. They must not block the view of road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs and they must not be so permanent that they cannot be removed if required.

Do I need permission to display advertisements?

Yes, unless your advert is allowed for in the Advert Regulations. The definitive rules are in the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements Regulations 2007) (as amended).

There are three different groups of outdoor advertisement covered by the regulations.

  • Advertisements which are deliberately excluded from control. 
  • Advertisements which have 'deemed consent' meaning an application is not needed provided you stay within certain rules. 
  • Advertisements for which an application is always needed.

The Government have produced a Guide to Outdoor Advertisements and Signs which explains in detail whether or not advertisement consent is required for different types of advertisements and signs.

How to apply for advertisement consent

To apply for advertisement consent you will need to

More information on the planning application process.

How is your advertisement consent decided

Your application should be dealt within 8 weeks and will be subject to the normal Planning and Building Control procedures for planning applications. When considering applications, we take into account aspects of 'amenity' and 'public safety'.

Amenity usually means the effect an advertisement has on the immediate neighbourhood. For example, if an advertisement is visually dominating a group of 'listed' buildings or a residential area it would be refused. But where there are large buildings and main highways, for example in industrial or commercial areas, we may grant consent for a large hoarding which might not look out of place.

Amenity considerations do not include content, subject matter, or public decency. These factors are controlled by a voluntary 'code of conduct' supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Public safety means the safety of road traffic, other modes of transport or pedestrians. We assess likely effects on driver behaviour and confusion with traffic signs or signals. We know that advertisements are intended to attract people's attention, so signs would not automatically be regarded as a distraction to road users. However, what really matters is whether a sign is so distracting or confusing that it creates a danger.

What happens after the decision?

Approvals for advertisements are usually temporary for five years but we can grant consent for a longer or shorter period so check the decision notice. Unless we have imposed a condition that your advertisement must be removed after your consent expires you may continue to display it without a further application unless we take discontinuance action against it.

What happens if consent is refused?

If we refuse your application or imposes a condition you do not like you have right to appeal. You can also appeal if we fail to give a decision within eight weeks.

How and when you can appeal to the Secretary of State?

If you wish to appeal you must contact the Planning Inspectorate.

Appeal forms can be obtained direct from the Planning Inspectorate. You must appeal within eight weeks of the decision notification and the appeal decision is usually final.

Illegal advertisements

We can prosecute illegal advertisers but unless the offence is especially flagrant or repeated we will invite an application. The continued display of advertisements after refusal and any appeal dismissed, would result in prosecution. The maximum fine on conviction is presently £ 1,000 with additional daily fines on conviction of a continuing offence.

Fly posting is also open to prosecution and signs can simply be removed. If the signs identify the advertiser we will give two days notice of removal which then can be contested.

Discontinuance Action

This action is taken when any advertisements in the deemed consent categories cause a substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or a danger to members of the public. We will ensure that the advertiser, the land-owner and any occupiers receive copies of the discontinuance notice. The notice will state the period within which the display or use must stop, the reasons why, and when the notice comes into effect.

Anyone who receives a discontinuance notice has a right of appeal before it takes effect. If the appeal fails the display must stop on the date specified in the appeal decision.

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