Guidance

Advertisements

Explains control of advertisement regime.

Definition of an advertisement

Background

The display of advertisements is subject to a separate consent process within the planning system. This is principally set out in the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.

In this section, “the Regulations” means The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007 (as amended), and any reference to an individual regulation means the regulation as specified.

Advertisements are controlled with reference to their effect on amenity and public safety only, so the regime is lighter touch than the system for obtaining planning permission for development.

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What is the definition of an advertisement?

For planning purposes, ‘advertisement’ is defined in section 336(1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) as:

“any word, letter, model, sign, placard, board, notice, awning, blind, device or representation, whether illuminated or not, in the nature of, and employed wholly or partly for the purposes of, advertisement, announcement or direction, and (without prejudice to the previous provisions of this definition) includes any hoarding or similar structure used or designed, or adapted for use and anything else principally used, or designed or adapted principally for use, for the display of advertisements.”

Some additional detail on the meaning of the term ‘advertisement’ is provided in the Regulations.

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There are 3 categories of advertisement consent:

  • Those permitted without requiring either deemed or express consent from the local planning authority;
  • Those which have deemed consent;
  • Those which require the express consent of the local planning authority.

In detail:

There are 9 different classes (Class A to I) of advertisement, contained in Schedule 1 (as amended) to the Regulations, which do not require express consent from the local planning authority, provided that certain criteria and conditions are met. Subject to meeting these, the advertisements can be displayed without requiring approval from the local planning authority.

There are another 17 classes of advertisement (Class 1 to 17), contained in Schedule 3 to the Regulations (as amended in 2011 and 2012, which do not need consent from the local planning authority provided that they comply with further restrictions (referred to as “deemed consent” in the Regulations). Each class has its own criteria and conditions which must be met and provided that the advertisement in question conforms to all of the relevant provisions in a class, consent is not required from the local planning authority. Local planning authorities can, however, restrict the use of deemed consent which distinguishes these from the classes of advertisement set out in Schedule 1 to the Regulations.

If a proposed advertisement does not fall into one of the Classes in Schedule 1 or Schedule 3 to the Regulations, consent must be applied for and obtained from the local planning authority (referred to as express consent in the Regulations). Express consent is also required to display an advertisement that does not comply with the specific conditions and limitations on the class that the advertisement would otherwise have consent under.

It is criminal offence to display an advertisement without consent.

All advertisements are subject to the standard conditions set out in Schedule 2 to the Regulations. The only exception is Class F in Schedule 1 where condition 4 (maintaining structures or hoardings in a safe condition) does not apply.

Even if express consent is not required, all advertisements must comply with any other relevant statutory provisions. For example, listed building consent may be required under the Listed Building Regulations.

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The display of advertisements is controlled through a specific approval process and separate planning permission is not required in addition to advertisement consent. Under section 222 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended), planning permission is deemed to be granted for any development of land involved in the display of advertisements in accordance with the Regulations. Consent under section 222 would not grant consent for the erection of any structure unless its primary purpose is to display advertisements, although it would include development which is ancillary to the actual advertisement’s display but part of the same scheme.

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Buildings which are being renovated or are undergoing major structural work and which have scaffolding or netting around them may be considered suitable as temporary sites for shroud advertisements or large ‘wrap’ advertisements covering the face, or part of the face, of the building. In all cases, express consent from the local planning authority will be required for these advertisements. If the building to which the scaffolding is connected is included on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest, listed building consent is likely to be required.

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Express consent is only required to fly certain flags. Many flags (such as national flags) are contained in Schedule 1 to the Regulations and can therefore be flown without the need for express consent. Other flags have deemed consent under Schedule 3 to the Regulations. The government’s plain English guide to flying flags provides more information on those flags which can be displayed without obtaining express consent.

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All illuminated advertisements projected onto buildings, landscapes or clouds created by means of lasers, search lights and beams of light require consent from the local planning authority.

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The government’s view is that there are no deemed consent provisions in the Regulations that would apply to commercial advertising on utilities’ equipment such as broadband cabinets, and that such commercial advertisements may only be placed on them with the express consent of the local planning authority. Functional advertisements (such as safety signs or warning notices) that fall within Class 1 of Schedule 3 to the Regulations may be displayed on utilities’ equipment with deemed consent.

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Subject to the conditions and limitations specified in Class 16 of Schedule 3 to the Regulations, advertisements displayed on the glazed (external) surface of telephone kiosks have deemed consent and therefore do not require express consent.

Telephone kiosks do not constitute ‘buildings’ for the purposes of Class 12 of Schedule 3 to the Regulations, which gives deemed consent to advertisements displayed inside buildings.

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Aerial advertising is regulated by the Civil Aviation (Aerial Advertising) Regulations 1995, which provide that any aircraft (apart from a captive balloon) may display any mark or inscription on its body other than an illuminated sign. A captive balloon may display any mark or inscription on its body if the balloon is no more than 7 metres in any linear dimension (and no more than 20 cubic metres in total capacity). Such captive balloons may display any mark or inscription on a banner or pennant attached to its mooring cables.

The Civil Aviation Authority’s permission is required to fly a captive balloon more than 60 metres above ground level (see article 163 of the Air Navigation Order 2009). If it appears that a balloon is being flown above 60 metres from the ground, a local planning authority should first check whether any permission for the balloon has been given by the Civil Aviation Authority.

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“A-boards” on highways (including footways) where vehicular traffic is prohibited will require express advertisement consent. They will also require the consent of the relevant council under section 115E of the Highways Act 1980 for permission to place items such as “A-boards” in highways (including footways) where vehicular traffic is prohibited.

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If there is uncertainty about whether consent is required, the relevant local planning authority should be contacted.

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Yes. The standard conditions provide that you must have permission of the site owner/occupier to display an advert on that land. It is illegal to display any advertisement (even if it has deemed consent) without first obtaining the permission of the owner of the site, or any other person who is entitled to give their permission.

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Are there any conditions that apply to all advertisements?

All advertisements, whether they require consent or not, are subject to the standard conditions in Schedule 2 to the Regulations. These are:

  1. no advertisement is to be displayed without the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed (this includes the highway authority, if the sign is to be placed on highway land);
  2. no advertisement is to be displayed which would obscure, or hinder the interpretation of, official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport;
  3. any advertisement must be maintained in a condition that does not impair the visual amenity of the site;
  4. any advertisement hoarding or structure is to be kept in a condition which does not endanger the public; and
  5. if an advertisements is required to be removed, the site must be left in a condition that does not endanger the public or impair visual amenity.

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Anyone who displays an advertisement in contravention of the Regulations commits an offence. For example, by displaying an advert without the necessary consent or without complying with the conditions attached to that consent. It is then immediately open to the local planning authority to bring a prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court for an offence under section 224 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The penalty on conviction for the offence is at level 4 on the standard scale (current maximum £2,500) and in the case of a continuing offence a further daily fine of up to a maximum of one tenth of that amount (£250) until the contravention ends.

Where a local planning authority achieves a successful conviction for failure to comply with an enforcement notice, they can apply for a Confiscation Order, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, to recover the financial benefit obtained through unauthorised development.

Local planning authorities also have powers to remove any advertisement (and any structure used for its display) which in their view is displayed in contravention of the Regulations.

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An application should be made to the local planning authority for the area where the advertisement will be displayed. The relevant local planning authority can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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The information that must accompany an application for express consent is specified in regulation 9. In addition to the completed application form, a scaled plan which identifies the location of the site and the proposed position of the advertisement must be provided. Photo montages showing the proposed advertisement on the site may be helpful. Further guidance on the application fees can be found in regulation 13 of the Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012.

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Who must an applicant notify prior to submission of an application?

An application must confirm whether the site owner and everyone with an interest in the site have given their permission to display an advertisement.

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What actions must a local planning authority take on receipt of an application?

The steps which local planning authorities must take on receipt of an application for express consent are set out in regulation 12. Local planning authorities should take a proportionate approach to the level of information they request from applicants.

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What information must a local planning authority place on the planning register?

The information that must be kept on the planning register is specified in regulation 24.

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An application can be made for express consent even it has previously been refused. However, regulation 14(1)(c) empowers a local planning authority to decline to determine repetitive similar applications for express consent. Where an appeal against the refusal of an application for express consent has been dismissed by the Secretary of State within the preceding 2 years, a local planning authority may decline to determine any similar application unless there has been a significant change in any material consideration. The 2-year period runs from the date of the appeal decision.

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What constitutes a ‘similar’ application?

Section 70A(8) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as modified by Schedule 4 to the Regulations) defines applications as ‘similar’, if (and only if) the local planning authority considers that the land and subject matter are the same, or substantially the same.

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What could constitute a significant change in any material consideration in the context of repeat applications?

A local planning authority has discretion, but a significant change is likely to be one which alters the weight of any consideration of amenity or public safety which was applied to the original application.

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Where an authority considers that an application is similar, it is not automatically obliged to decline to determine the application. The purpose of this power is to discourage the use of repeated applications that the local planning authority believes are submitted with the intention of exerting pressure, or as a delaying tactic to retain the display of unlawful advertisements. However, a local planning authority does not have to decline to determine an application, if it has been revised in a genuine attempt to take account of objections to an earlier proposal, or if there has been a change in local circumstances or any relevant material considerations.

The submission of repeated applications does not prevent a local planning authority from prosecuting for the illegal display of an advert.

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Can an applicant appeal against a local planning authority’s decision to decline to determine a repeat application?

An application which a local planning authority declines to determine should be returned to the applicant along with the fee paid. Applicants have no right of appeal against a local planning authority’s decision not to determine an application. An applicant may, however, apply to the High Court for judicial review of an authority’s decision.

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What factors can a local planning authority take into consideration when determining an advertisement application?

Regulation 3 requires that local planning authorities control the display of advertisements in the interests of amenity and public safety, taking into account the provisions of the development plan, in so far as they are material, and any other relevant factors.

Unless the nature of the advertisement is in itself harmful to amenity or public safety, consent cannot be refused because the local planning authority considers the advertisement to be misleading (in so far as it makes misleading claims for products), unnecessary, or offensive to public morals.

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See the guidance on the consideration of, and consultation regarding, possible effect of advertisements on amenity.

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What considerations should local planning authorities take into account in assessing public safety in relation to advertisement applications?

Factors relevant to public safety are specified in regulation 3. Public safety is not confined to road safety and includes all of the considerations which are relevant to the safe use and operation of any form of traffic or transport on land (including the safety of pedestrians), over water or in the air.

See further guidance on the consideration of, and consultation regarding, possible effect of advertisements on public safety.

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Do local plans have to contain specific policies on advertisements?

A local plan does not have to contain advertisement policies. If such policies are considered necessary to protect the unique character of a particular area, these should be evidence-based.

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The bodies that local planning authorities must consult before granting express consent are specified in regulation 13.

While there is no statutory requirement for a local planning authority to publicise applications for advertisement consent, it should consider whether any application would affect the amenity of neighbours. Where it would affect them, it is good practice for the views of neighbours to be sought before determining an application.

Further guidance on consultation about the public safety implications of advertisements.

Further guidance on amenity implications.

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A local planning authority’s decision on an application for express consent must be given in 8 weeks, unless the applicant agrees in writing to a longer period.

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What additional considerations may apply when considering applications for sign posting in rural areas?

In dealing with applications for ‘advance signs’, to be sited off highway land, directing potential customers to businesses or tourist attractions in scenically attractive rural areas, local planning authorities need to bear in mind that appropriate sign-posting can benefit the local economy and reflect this through the decision-taking process.

If consent for such signs has to be refused on amenity or public safety grounds, efforts should be made, where practicable, to suggest an alternative site or sign and to co-operate with the applicant in devising a sign posting scheme which is acceptable in the locality. Authorities are encouraged to develop well-designed, environmentally acceptable sign-posting schemes with other organisations such as Regional Tourist Boards and Natural England.

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What considerations may apply when considering applications for signs indicating the boundaries of historic or traditional counties?

Local authorities may install signs indicating the boundary of a historic or traditional county on their land. Depending on circumstances, such signs may benefit from deemed consent or the authority may be able to grant itself express consent under regulation 15, these powers being exercised as usual in the interests of amenity and public safety. Authorities need to bear in mind how such sign-posting can benefit the local economy and reflect this through the decision-taking process, where such signs are appropriate and locally-supported.

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All advertisements, whether they require express consent or not, are subject to standard conditions. If a local planning authority decides to impose additional conditions, these must be supported by specific and relevant planning reasons.

They should never be imposed because the local planning authority wishes, as a matter of general policy, to prevent the operation of Class 14 in Schedule 3 (advertisements displayed after expiry of express consent) in their area.

To require removal of an advertisement immediately at the end of the express consent period, a condition has to be attached to the consent by the local planning authority. This is because advertisements displayed after the expiry of express consent have deemed consent under Class 14 of Schedule 3 to the Regulations.

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The local planning authority must notify the applicant of its decision in accordance with the requirements in regulation 16 when consent is granted or refused.

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Consent usually lasts for 5 years but a local planning authority has discretion and can grant consent for a longer or shorter period. Unless the local planning authority has imposed a condition that an advertisement with express consent must be removed after the consent expires, it may normally continue to be displayed without submitting any further application (ie under Class 14 deemed consent).

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There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State:

  • against the refusal of consent for an advertisement; or
  • against the grant of consent for an advertisement subject to a condition, or conditions, which the applicant considers unacceptable (other than the standard conditions); and
  • if the local planning authority fails to make a decision within 8 weeks of the date of the application (or a longer period if this has been agreed in writing).

An appeal must normally be made within 8 weeks of the date of the receipt of the local planning authority’s decision. See further guidance on the appeal process and the information that local planning authorities must supply to the Secretary of State when handling appeals.

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The local planning authority has discretion over whether a change to an existing advertisement requires an application for express consent, taking into account whether the proposed modification would materially alter the site approved for advertising. It would be reasonable for a local planning authority to allow minor changes (for example, where the name of an occupier changes but the size and type of display remains substantially unaltered), without requiring a subsequent application.

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A local planning authority has certain powers to revoke or modify an express consent after it has been issued under Regulation 18. This is a rarely-used reserve power mainly intended for correction of consents granted in error. Regulation 19 provides details on compensation arrangements for revocation or modification.

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Regulation 9(11) states that an application for renewal of express consent may not be made more than 6 months before the date on which the consent is due to expire.

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Additional restrictions on the display of advertisements

A local planning authority can choose to place more stringent control over advertisements in 3 main ways, by:

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If a local planning authority considers it necessary to restrict deemed consent in a particular area, it must apply to the Secretary of State. Upon receipt of a proposal from a local planning authority, the Secretary of State can issue a direction under regulation 7 that requires express consent to be obtained for advertisements that normally benefit from deemed consent (with the exception of Classes 12 and 13 in Schedule 3 to the Regulations.

To do this, it must be clear that one or more of the deemed consent provisions has had such adverse effects on the amenity or public safety of the area that there is no prospect of an improvement in the quality of advertising in the locality, unless the local planning authority are given the power to control that particular type of advertisement.

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The Secretary of State must publicise a local planning authority’s proposal and allow an opportunity for representations to be made on the proposal, and take any representations into account, when making a decision. Where a proposal relates to a particular area, the Secretary of State must give public notice by publishing details of the proposed direction. Full details are set out in regulation 7. In practice, the publicity arrangements are undertaken by the local planning authority on the Secretary of State’s behalf.

Where there are objections, the Secretary of State may decide to offer the local planning authority and objectors the opportunity to be heard by a Planning Inspector.

When the Secretary of State gives a direction under regulation 7 restricting deemed consent, written reasons must also be issued to the local planning authority and anyone who submitted representations. Details of the direction must be published and those owners / occupiers displaying advertisements which are affected by the direction must be notified.

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A local planning authority can advise whether there are restrictions on deemed consent. Local planning authorities are also encouraged to have up to date information about any such area on their website.

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What is discontinuance action and when can it be taken?

Discontinuance action is when a local planning authority serves a notice (a ‘discontinuance notice’) under regulation 8, requiring that the display of a particular advertisement with deemed consent (or the use of a particular site for displaying advertisements with deemed consent) be discontinued.

A local planning authority may take discontinuance action if it is satisfied that such action is necessary to remedy a substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or a danger to members of the public. As “substantial injury” to the amenity of the locality is a more rigorous test than the “interests” of amenity, local planning authorities will need to justify this in their statement of reasons.

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What advertisements can be the subject of discontinuance action?

Only advertisements displayed with deemed consent, in accordance with one of the Classes of advertisements in Schedule 3 to the Regulations.

When using this power against a site, local planning authorities need to define precisely the site, or part of the site to which the discontinuance notice relates.

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What alternatives to discontinuance action can a local planning authority consider?

Prior to serving a discontinuance notice, a local planning authority should consider whether a modified display would be acceptable and if so, the authority should discuss this with the person displaying the advertisement.

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On whom must the discontinuance notice be served?

The local planning authority must serve the discontinuance notice on:

  • the owner of the site on which the advertisement is displayed; or
  • the occupier of the site, if different;

and

  • any other person who undertakes or maintains the display of the advertisement.

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What must be stated in a discontinuance notice?

Regulation 8(3) provides specific details on what a discontinuance notice must state, in summary:

  • the advertisement or advertisements site whose display or use is to stop;
  • the period within which the display or use must stop;
  • the reasons why the display or use must stop (a ‘statement of reasons’);
  • the effective day of the notice (at least 8 weeks after it is served); and
  • a list of the names and addresses of the persons served with a copy of the discontinuance notice.

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How much detail is needed in the statement of reasons?

Regulation 8 requires a statement of the reasons for taking discontinuance action. This must explain why the local planning authority considers that substantial injury to the amenity of the locality or a danger to members of the public, as the case may be, has been caused and also why it considers it necessary to serve the notice.

The reasons given should be specific to the site and leave the person displaying the advertisement in no doubt about exactly what makes the display unacceptable to the local planning authority. If the notice specifies a particular advertisement(s), the statement should specifically address that particular advertisement(s). If the notice refers to the use of the site, the statement must explain why the use of the site as a whole for the display of advertisements should cease.

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What is the period for the discontinuance notice to take effect?

The period for the notice to take effect must not be less than 8 weeks after the date on which it is served. This means 8 weeks after the date it is received by the person on whom it is served, not 8 weeks after the date it is dispatched.

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How long must be allowed for the display to be discontinued after the notice has taken effect?

There is no statutory requirement but it needs to be a reasonable period of time, depending on the nature of any works which will have to be undertaken for the display to cease.

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Can a discontinuance notice be withdrawn or varied?

A discontinuance notice can be withdrawn or varied in accordance with regulation 8(6).

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Is there a right of appeal against a discontinuance notice?

There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State against a discontinuance notice, before the date it comes into effect. When the local planning authority has received notification of an appeal, not later than 14 days from the date of the notification, the local planning authority must send the Secretary of State a copy of the discontinuance notice and the names and addresses of those served with a copy. If an appeal is made and subsequently dismissed, the display of the advertisement(s) must stop on the date specified in the appeal decision.

See further guidance on the appeal process and the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Direction 2013 which sets out the information that local planning authorities must supply to the Secretary of State when handling appeals.

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What is an area of special control?

An area of special control order places additional restrictions on the display of advertisements. For example, some deemed consent classes are subject to reduced size limits if they are located in an area of special control. It may be appropriate to designate an area of special control in locations where the local planning authority considers these additional restrictions are necessary, above and beyond its powers to restrict deemed consent and take discontinuance action, such as in rural areas or other areas which appear to the Secretary of State to require special protection on the grounds of amenity.

A local planning authority can only make an area of special control order after it has been approved by the Secretary of State. Detail is set out in regulations 20 and 21 of and Schedule 5 to the Regulations. Before making an order and applying for approval from the Secretary of State, local planning authorities are expected to consult local trade and amenity organisations about the proposal.

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How frequently should an area of special control order be reviewed?

Where an area of special control order is in force, a local planning authority shall consider at least once in every 5 years whether it should be revoked or modified. It is important to ensure that the standards adopted in first making the order are consistently maintained throughout the whole area of special control whilst it remains in effect. Local planning authorities are encouraged to consider the desirability of applying to add further areas to an existing order, and of applying to remove areas in which stricter control is no longer appropriate, whenever they review an order.

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How can any Areas of Special Control be identified?

The local planning authority can advise on any areas of special control. Local planning authorities are encouraged to have up to date information on any such area on their website.

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Enforcement against specific unauthorised advertisements

How are unauthorised advertisements controlled?

There are several provisions under which unauthorised advertisements can be controlled by local planning authorities. The principal mechanisms are in section 224 and section 225 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended). Local planning authorities have specific powers to deal with:

See also What happens if an advertisement is displayed without the necessary consent?.

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What action is possible in relation to display structures for illegal advertisements (ie hoardings)?

Section 225A of the 1990 Act (as amended) allows local planning authorities to remove and dispose of any display structure – such as an advertisement hoarding – which, in their opinion, is used for the display of illegal advertisements. This provision does not apply to a structure in a building to which the public have no right of access.

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How does the removal process work?

Before taking any action, the local planning authority must serve a ‘removal notice’ on the person responsible for the erection and maintenance of the structure, provided they can be identified. If not, the local planning authority must fix the removal notice to the structure or display it in the vicinity and serve a copy on the occupier of the land, if one is known, or if one can be identified.

If the removal notice is not complied with, within the time allowed (at least 22 days beginning with the date of the notice), the authority may remove the structure and recover expenses reasonably incurred in doing so from anyone served with the removal notice.

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Can an appeal be made against a removal notice?

There is a right to appeal to the Magistrates’ Court against a removal notice, both for a person on whom the notice was served (whether this is the person who appears responsible for the erection or maintenance of the display structure, or the occupier of the land on which a display structure is situated) and the owner or occupier of land upon whom no notice has been served.

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What action is possible against fly-posting?

Local planning authorities can take action against persistent unauthorised advertisements on ‘surfaces’. Action can be taken against those responsible for fly-posting, the beneficiaries of fly-posting and the owners of surfaces that are the subject of fly-posting. Local planning authorities are able to recover their costs of removing fly-posting by direct action.

Section 225 of the 1990 Act enables a local planning authority to remove or obliterate any placard or poster displayed illegally in their area. Before this power can be exercised, advance written notice must be given to anyone who can be identified as the person responsible for the display, that:

  • in the local planning authority’s opinion it is displayed illegally; and
  • the local planning authority intends to remove or obliterate it after the expiry of a period specified in the notice.

At least 2 clear days after the date when the notice is served must be allowed before a local planning authority proceeds to remove or obliterate the display. A local planning authority need not give notice where the placard or poster does not give the address of the person displaying it and the local planning authority does not know that address and is unable to ascertain the relevant address after making reasonable inquiry.

Local planning authorities may serve a defacement removal notice, under section 48 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, to require statutory undertakers and others responsible for street furniture and ‘relevant surfaces’ to remove fly-posters, and where street furniture and relevant surfaces are defaced by fly-posters in a manner that is detrimental to the amenity of the area or is offensive. If a defacement removal notice is not complied with, a local planning authority can remove fly-posters and reclaim the costs of doing so.

If the local planning authority decides to take action against the owner of a surface that is the subject of fly-posting, it may serve an ‘action notice’ under section 225C on the owner or occupier of the land where the surface is situated if they are known or can be discovered. If this is not possible after reasonable enquiry, it may fix the notice to the surface.

The action notice requires the owner or occupier to take any specified measures (provided these are reasonable) to prevent or reduce the frequency of the unauthorised advertisements on the surface concerned. At least 28 days must be allowed for action to be taken.

If action is not taken, the local planning authority may take the specified action itself and recover expenses reasonably incurred from the owner or occupier. If, however, damage is caused to land or chattels, compensation may be recovered by any person suffering the damage, but not if the damage was reasonably caused in carrying out the action.

Expenditure cannot be recovered if the surface is on, within the curtilage of, or forms part of the curtilage boundary of, a dwellinghouse or forms part of a flat.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Can an action notice be appealed?

There is a right of appeal to the Magistrates’ Court against an action notice for the owner or the occupier of the land on which the surface is situated (section 225D). As with the removal notice, there are fixed grounds of appeal.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What action is possible against graffiti?

Local planning authorities can take action against signs (such as graffiti) on surfaces which are readily accessible to the public, which it considers to be detrimental to the amenity of the area or offensive (section 225F).

The local planning authority may serve a notice on the occupier of the premises requiring them to remove or obliterate the sign allowing at least 15 days to comply. If there appears to be no occupier, the authority may fix the notice to the surface.

If action is not taken within the time specified, the local planning authority may take the action itself and recover its expenses from the person who should have done it. Expenses cannot be recovered if the surface is on, within the curtilage of, or forms part of the curtilage boundary of, a dwellinghouse.

Local planning authorities also have powers to require statutory undertakers and bodies responsible for street furniture to remove graffiti.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Can an appeal be made against a defacement removal notice?

The owner or the occupier of the land on which the surface is situated has a right of appeal against a defacement removal notice to the Secretary of State (section 225I).

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What action is possible against unauthorised advertisements alongside highways?

Section 132 of the Highways Act 1980 enables the highway authority to remove unlawful advertisements such as pictures or signs attached to any trees, highway signs, structures or works in the highway.

Rural areas are often included in areas of special control, which means that advertisement hoardings alongside motorways, trunk roads and railways in these areas are prohibited. Advertisement hoardings in other areas require express consent before they can be lawfully displayed. Any advertisement, including any advertisement in the deemed consent classes, which does not comply with the conditions and limitations for its class also requires express consent.

Advertisements on vehicles or trailers parked in fields, on verges or in lay-bys require express consent. Only when the vehicle is used as a moving vehicle and is not used principally for the display of advertisements is any advertisement on it lawful without express consent. The site where the vehicle is parked for any length of time becomes a site for the display of advertisements. The ‘site’ can be regarded as all the land owned by the owner of the site, or the length of the highway in the local planning authority’s area.

As there are road safety issues in displaying advertisements alongside motorways and other trunk roads, Highways England should be consulted about any application for express consent. Highways England is unlikely to support any application for an advertisement which could distract drivers. The road safety and amenity issues raised by these advertisements mean that it is unlikely that express consent to display them would be given.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Considerations affecting public safety

In what locations are advertisements more likely to affect public safety on the roads?

All advertisements are intended to attract attention but proposed advertisements at points where drivers need to take more care are more likely to affect public safety. For example, at junctions, roundabouts, pedestrian crossings, on the approach to a low bridge or level crossing or other places where local conditions present traffic hazards. There are less likely to be road safety problems if the advertisement is on a site within a commercial or industrial locality, if it is a shop fascia sign, name-board, trade or business sign, or a normal poster panel, and if the advertisement is not on the skyline.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What are the main types of advertisement which may cause danger to road users?

The main types of advertisement which may cause danger to road users are:

(a) those which obstruct or impair sight-lines at corners, bends or at a junction, or at any point of access to a highway;

(b) those which, because of their size or siting, would obstruct or confuse a road-user’s view, or reduce the clarity or effectiveness of a traffic sign or signal, or would be likely to distract road-users because of their unusual nature;

(c) those which effectively leave insufficient clearance above any part of a highway, or insufficient lateral clearance for vehicles on the carriageway (due allowance being made for the camber of the road-surface);

(d) those externally or internally illuminated signs (incorporating either flashing or static lights) including those utilising light emitting diode technology:

i. where the means of illumination is directly visible from any part of the road;

ii. which, because of their colour, could be mistaken for, or confused with, traffic lights or any other authorised signals;

iii. which, because of their size or brightness, could result in glare and dazzle, or distract road-users, particularly in misty or wet weather; or

iv. which are subject to frequent changes of the display;

(e) those which incorporate moving or apparently moving elements in their display, or successive individual advertisements which do not display the whole message;

(f) those requiring close study (such as Public Information Panels), which are situated so that people looking at them would be insufficiently protected from passing vehicles; or those advertisements sited on narrow footpaths where they may interfere with safe passage by causing pedestrians to step into the road;

(g) those which resemble traffic signs, as defined in section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and may therefore be subject to removal by the traffic authority under section 69 of that Act, for example:

i. those embodying red circles, crosses or triangles, or any traffic sign symbol; or those in combinations of colours which might otherwise be mistaken for traffic signs; or

ii. those incorporating large arrows or chevrons with only the arrow or chevron made of retroflective material or illuminated, causing confusion with similar signs in use at, or approaching roundabouts.

(h) those which embody directional or other traffic elements and which need special scrutiny because of possible resemblance to, or confusion with, traffic signs, for example, advertisements which:

i. contain a large arrow or chevron (or have a pointed end and have only a few words of message);

ii. invite drivers to turn right on a main road, or where there is fast moving traffic;

iii. invite drivers to turn, but are sited so close to the turning that there is not enough time to signal and turn safely; or

iv. are so close to similar advertisements, or official traffic signs, that road-users might be confused in the vicinity of a road junction or other traffic hazard.

In many cases it may be possible for the hazardous traffic features of the display to be removed by, for example, re-siting the sign, screening of floodlights, changing the colours of lights or restricting the frequency with which the display changes. Such changes might be achieved by discussing a suitable alternative display with the advertiser.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What constitutes a ‘traffic sign’?

Section 64 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 defines a ‘traffic sign’ as any object, device, line or mark for conveying, to traffic on roads or any specified class of traffic, warnings, information, requirements, restrictions or prohibitions of any description specified by reference to the regulations. The relevant regulations are the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (as amended). Section 69 of the 1984 Act gives traffic authorities a discretionary power to remove anything which resembles but is not legally a ‘traffic sign’. If therefore, a local planning authority, when considering an application for the display of an advertisement, think that it might resemble a traffic sign, they should consult the local traffic authority before granting express consent.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Under what circumstances is a local planning authority required to consult the Secretary of State for Transport?

Under regulation 13(1)(c), where a local planning authority considers that the safety of users of any trunk road may be affected by the display of an advertisement, the local planning authority must consult the Secretary of State for Transport before granting express consent. Applications for advertisements that may affect the safety of users of trunk roads should be referred to Highways England. Where the trunk road is in Greater London, applications should be referred to Transport for London. (A trunk road, by definition, includes a special road or motorway for which Highways England or the Secretary of State for Transport is the highway authority). Highways England or Transport for London, as appropriate, may be able to advise initially whether the safety of road-users is likely to be affected.

Land alongside trunk roads is landscaped for reasons of safety and appearance. Only prescribed or authorised traffic signs are permitted on land acquired for trunk roads. Advertisements may, however, be permitted within a ‘service area’. Local planning authorities should ensure that on other land alongside trunk roads, no advertisements which could adversely affect amenity or constitute a danger to traffic are granted consent.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Under what circumstances is a local planning authority required to consult the highway authority?

Under regulation 13(1)(e), the highway authority must be consulted by the local planning authority if an application for express consent relates to a proposed advertisement that is visible from the highway and has moving features, moving parts or flashing lights.

If the local planning authority has any doubt about the effect of any other advertisement on public safety, they should also consult the local highway authority. It is for the local planning authority to decide whether they agree with the advice from the highway authority on any particular case. They should not to rely on it automatically.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

In what ways can advertisements affect railway safety?

Under certain conditions, advertisements, whether illuminated or not, can interfere with railway safety in the following ways:

a. by interfering with the visibility or interpretation of fixed signals;

b. by causing the illusion of a signal where no signal is situated;

c. by being mistaken for hand signals;

d. by interfering with warning boards, speed-restriction signs, tail-lights, or other signs or lights;

e. by interfering with the visibility of level crossings;

f. by interfering with the visibility of level crossing signs and signals for road and rail users.

Green, yellow or red illuminated advertisements are particularly liable to cause such difficulties.

Paragraph: 072 Reference ID: 18b-072-20140306

Revision date: 06 03 2014

What are the consultation requirements for proposed advertisements that could affect the safe operation of a railway?

Under regulation 13(1)(d), the local planning authority must consult the person responsible for operating the railway (such as Network Rail or London Underground Limited) if it considers that granting express consent may affect the safety of persons using the railway. This includes illuminated advertisements visible from the railway track, or non-illuminated advertisements adjacent to the railway track.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What consideration should local planning authorities give to public safety in relation to waterways, docks and harbours?

Local planning authorities should consider whether any particular advertisement is likely to obstruct, or cause confusion in the interpretation of, navigation lights, beacons and similar signs and warnings to vessels using inland waterways, docks and harbours, and coastal waters. Advertisements should not overhang or obstruct a waterway; nor should they be displayed or erected in such a manner as to obstruct or interfere with navigation by hindering a clear view of the waterway from a vessel, particularly at bends.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What are the consultation requirements for proposed advertisements that may affect the safe operation of a waterway, dock or harbour?

Where it appears to a local planning authority that granting express consent to display an advertisement may affect the safety of a waterway (including coastal waters), dock or harbour, the local planning authority must, under regulation 13(1)(d), consult the responsible bodies.

The Canal and River Trust is the responsible body for inland waterways that they own or manage. For docks and harbours, consultation is with the appropriate dock or harbour authority. For harbour approaches (or other coastal waters where there are navigational lights), Trinity House must be consulted.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

In what ways can advertisements affect the safety of aircraft?

An advertisement may endanger the safety of aircraft because:

a. its glare may dazzle a pilot of an aircraft in flight or taking off/ landing at an aerodrome;

b. it may be mistaken by a pilot for visual guidance signals (eg the visual glide path) on the approach to an aerodrome;

c. it may constitute an obstacle to an aircraft if it is on high ground or in the immediate vicinity of an aerodrome;

d. in the proximity of radar or other navigational aid equipment, it might impair the performance of the equipment.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

What are the consultation requirements for proposed advertisements that may affect the safe operation of an aerodrome?

Where it appears to a local planning authority that granting express consent to display an advertisement may affect the safety of an aerodrome (civil or military), the local planning authority must, under regulation 13(1)(d), consult the person responsible for operating the aerodrome.

If the aerodrome in question has been officially safeguarded, the address of the consultee will be shown on the safeguarding map. In the case of a military aerodrome, consultation must be undertaken with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Is crime prevention a public safety consideration in the control of advertisements?

The prevention of crime is a public safety consideration and local planning authorities should consider whether granting express consent could block the view of CCTV cameras, or whether illumination from an advertisement would cause glare on such cameras.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Considerations affecting amenity

What does “Amenity” mean?

“Amenity” is not defined exhaustively in the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. It includes aural and visual amenity (regulation 2(1)) and factors relevant to amenity include the general characteristics of the locality, including the presence of any feature of historic, architectural, cultural or similar interest (regulation 3(2)(a)).

It is, however, a matter of interpretation by the local planning authority (and the Secretary of State) as it applies in any particular case. In practice, “amenity” is usually understood to mean the effect on visual and aural amenity in the immediate neighbourhood of an advertisement or site for the display of advertisements, where residents or passers-by will be aware of the advertisement.

So, in assessing amenity, the local planning authority would always consider the local characteristics of the neighbourhood: for example, if the locality where the advertisement is to be displayed has important scenic, historic, architectural or cultural features, the local planning authority would consider whether it is in scale and in keeping with these features.

This might mean that a large poster-hoarding would be refused where it would dominate a group of listed buildings, but would be permitted in an industrial or commercial area of a major city (where there are large buildings and main highways) where the advertisement would not adversely affect the visual amenity of the neighbourhood of the site.

If the advertisement makes a noise, aural amenity would also be taken into account before express consent would be given.

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Revision date: 06 03 2014

Published 6 March 2014