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Planning permission needed for advertisements – a sign of the times?

Posted by Natalie Kay on 5th December 2017

Most people know that you may need planning permission if you’re extending your house, demolishing a building or constructing a new one. What many people don’t appreciate though is that you might also need permission to install a sign or other type of advertisement.

What is an ‘advertisement’?

The advertisement control system covers a very wide range of advertisements including signs, posters, notices, boards, balloon advertising, flag advertisements, price displays, traffic signs and many more – the likelihood is that most types of signage/advertisement will be caught by the regime.

Standard conditions to be complied with in respect of all outdoor advertisements

There are five ‘standard conditions’ that all outdoor advertisements must meet:

  • It must be kept clean an tidy;
  • It must be in a safe condition;
  • It must have permission from the landowner to be there (this includes the Highways Agency if signage is being displayed at the side of the road on its land);
  • It must not block, or hinder the interpretation of other signs, such as road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or make it hazardous to use these forms of transport within the vicinity of the sign; and
  • It must be removed if the Planning Authority withdraws permission for the sign.

Do I need to apply for Planning Permission for my advertisement?

The planning regime for advertisements is rather complex – some types do not require permission at all, some are granted deemed approval without the need to apply for express permission and others necessitate an application for planning permission.

Advertisements that don’t usually require an application for planning permission

These include:

  1. Small signs or notices to be displayed on buildings as a means of identification or warning (e.g. identifying the name of the business operating from a premises or a “Beware of the Dog” sign);
  2. Advertising goods or services for sale from business premises;
  3. Those on enclosed land (e.g. in shopping centres, football stadiums or bus stations);
  4. Those on moving vehicles (e.g. buses, cars etc.);
  5. Those displayed on items such as petrol pumps or vending machines;
  6. Those required by law;
  7. Those displayed inside a building;
  8. Certain kinds of temporary advertisements (e.g. “for sale” signs and those advertising a local event); and
  9. Advertisements displayed after the expiry of the express consent period.

Bear in mind, though, that there are still certain conditions that apply to even these types of advertising and signs (including, for example: the size, whether the sign is illuminated, what goods or services they advertise etc.), so you should always check the conditions and requirements before you put up any kind of advertising board, sign or even a temporary poster.

Advertisements requiring an application for planning permission

If your sign isn’t exempt or authorised by deemed approval, you will need prior written consent from the Local Authority. This necessitates submitting an application with supporting plans and drawings and payment of the appropriate fees.

If approved, your permission will be valid for a specified time period (usually 5 years). However, unless a condition of the consent states that the advertisement has to be removed when the consent expires or if the Local Authority seek to take “discontinuance action”, you can usually keep it in place beyond the initial time period by virtue of the deemed permissions referred to above.

Consent can be granted subject to conditions that need to be complied with so you need to read the terms of any permission granted carefully to ensure you comply with them.

If you think you may need consent for current signage or are planning a new one get in touch with Natalie Kay, our planning law and commercial property expert. 

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